Course Descriptions

This three-year program covers individual, group, couple, and family therapy and includes a yearlong practicum under the supervision of licensed mental health professionals who are also expressive arts therapists.

The training meets the educational* requirements for California’s Marriage and Family Therapy license (MFT) and is designed to meet the educational requirements to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

*Please note that in order to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, you must also complete 3,000 hours of internship in addition to your educational requirements. You will graduate from our program with between 700 and 1,000 hours that will count toward licensure.

Core Curriculum

This is a description of the EXA classes students will take during their three years in our program. 

Advanced Expressive Arts Seminars
Advanced EXA seminars provide an opportunity for students to develop clinical EXA skills with specific issues or populations. These include EXA with At-Risk Adolescents; EXA and Trauma; EXA with Elders; EXA and Substance Abuse

Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Counseling
Survey of current treatment approaches to chemical dependency and examination of humanist, transpersonal perspectives.

Child Therapy
Techniques to remedy or prevent problems in children and their families. Case material introduces strategies of intervention.

Clinical Application of EXA Therapy
This course explores the use of EXA therapy in the assessment and treatment of specific issues commonly encountered in clinical work, such as trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, alcohol and drug use/ addiction, dual diagnosis, life transitions, and medical issues. It also looks at the application of EXA therapy with various populations (e.g., couples, families, children, youth, and immigrants) and within designated settings (e.g., community mental health, hospitals, schools). Learning is enhanced 1) through clinical observations of EXA therapy in a variety of Bay Area facilities, and 2) through the initiation of a specific arts-practice that students will continue to deepen throughout the course of the EXA program.

Community Mental Health and the Recovery Model
Students will learn the basic principles of the recovery model of mental health as described and supported by the California Mental Health Services Act of 2004. Students will learn and work with the "mental health recovery" models of service and treatment delivery, including key structural components. Evidence-based treatment interventions will be demonstrated and experienced, and effective strategies for working on integrated service teams, and evaluation methodologies will be developed.

Couples Counseling
Theoretical and therapeutic approaches to working with couples, including object relations, ego analytic, cognitive behavioral, existential, and transpersonal perspectives as well as family systems approaches. Students learn how to integrate the use of visual arts, music, movement, drama, and the language arts with these different theoretical approaches.

Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: EXA Collaborative & Narrative Approaches
This class introduces students to the theories and practices that inform collaborative and narrative approaches to EXA. Rooted within social constructionist philosophy and congruent with the principles and practices of the recovery model, students learn how to use EXA to build collaborative relationships with clients, integrating "playful approaches to serious problems" (Epston, Freeman, and Lobovits). Students learn to coauthor with client's strengths-based alternative narratives in written, visual, poetic, musical, and embodied forms.

Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: Intermodal
The intermodal course follows a "flow" approach to expressive arts therapy developed over the past twenty years in Europe and America. It is based on finding meaning through following different but interconnected elements of imagination, including images, movements, sounds, and rhythms. This course presents a model of the therapist in dynamic, creative interaction with the client, where insight into the therapeutic relationship is stressed, particularly when experienced as an aesthetic response.

Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: Movement Centered
This course focuses on the use of movement and creative expression as agents of change and development of an artistic sensibility for the psychotherapeutic process. In this EXA approach, movement is the primary medium through which we access, explore, and integrate conscious and unconscious material. Drawing, writing, and dramatic enactments are combined with the movement experience to enhance and support the therapeutic aspects of this work.

Expressive Arts Therapy Approach: Person-Centered
This course integrates Carl Roger's evidence-based theory with multi-modal arts practice in individual therapy and group work to support self-awareness, healing, and self-determination, key factors that are congruent with the recovery model. Emphasis is on core conditions of empathy, honesty and "unconditional positive regard" to encourage respect for individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.

Expressive Arts Therapy Integrative Seminar
Taken in the final semester, this course integrates personal, artistic, academic, and clinical elements of the program. The final project includes a personal journey statement, an arts presentation, integrative paper, and clinical case study. The integrative paper articulates each student's philosophy and approach to expressive arts therapy. The case study includes a clinical case presentation integrating expressive arts therapy and other clinical approaches.

Family Dynamics and Therapy
This course covers the family life cycle as well as the theories and methods of many of the major family theories, including strategic, brief strategic, systemic, narrative, solution-focused, family-of-origin, structural, and symbolic-experiential family therapy. The course will present and examine myriad family structures as represented in society and in public mental health. The course also includes experiential expressive arts processes and instructor-demonstrated family-of-origin interviews.

Family Dynamics and Therapy Lab
This is a practice lab connected to the theory and techniques being studied in Family Dynamics and Therapy.

Group Dynamics and Therapy
This course explores basic theories of group process and group therapy through group interaction, didactic analysis, and synthesis. Students will learn the use of standard group and expressive arts therapies interventions.

History and Foundations of EXA Therapy
This course covers the creation of the EXA field; its history and philosophical foundations from its indigenous and multicultural roots to contemporary practices with individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. The class focuses on the innate healing power of the creative process in relation to the integrative use of visual arts, music, dance, drama, and imaginal language arts in therapy. We will explore the implications and interplay of EXA therapy within the recovery model of mental health as well as other EXA-based clinical approaches.

Human Development and the Family
Theories and research in life transitions, stages of development, and rites of passage; from prenatal conditions through adult experience to dying.

Human Sexuality
This course explores personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions of sexual experience including awareness, attitudes, meaning, expresssion, response, sexual counseling, and integration with personal development. 

The Arts in Therapy I & II
The Arts in Therapy courses focus on the therapeutic potential of the arts in practice. The use of single art forms as well as the use of integrative arts processes are explored. Students will develop foundational EXA skills in assessment and therapeutic interventions. Special consideration is given to issues of cultural competence and cultural humility in working with diverse populations when using the arts.

Pre/Post Practicum
This class provides clinical supervision for Expressive Arts Therapy students in their second year who are working with members of the Glide Memorial Church Community and in other EXA pre-practicum settings.

Professional Ethics and Family Law
Ethical standards for the practice of counseling and psychology. Review and discussion of ethical and legal aspects of marriage and family therapy and practice.

Psychopathology and Psychological Assessment
This combined course provides a historical, comparative, and contemporary overview of the development and clinical presentation of adult psychopathology and the categorization system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, along with a survey of the clinical process of testing for both psychopathological structures and non- pathological personality features and traits. The individual counselor's ability to clinically analyze and interpret assessment instruments, including diagnostic tests, will be emphasized.

Psychotherapy Theories and Practices
This is an introduction to traditional and contemporary theories and practices of psychotherapy. We begin by situating the field in relation to its sociocultural, historical, and indigenous roots. We go on to examine contemporary psychodynamic, Jungian, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and collaborative approaches; we integrating feminist and multicultural perspectives, addressing intersections with the recovery model. Creative arts-based case examples for various approaches are woven into the fabric of the class.

Research Methods
This course provides an overview of research methodologies with special focus on qualitative approaches, comparative ways of knowing, and the creation of an integral inquiry research project. The course will also include research in the creative and expressive arts therapies.

Supervised Clinical Practicum: Group
The supervised clinical practicum course provides a presentation and discussion of case materials for students who are currently working in practicum sites. The emphasis of the course is upon case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, development of clinical skills, and integration of expressive arts processes.

Therapeutic Communication: Foundational Skills
This course provides an overview of key concepts and methods in therapeutic communication, integrating psychodynamic, humanistic, expressive arts, and other approaches. It examines the sociocultural embeddings of therapeutic interactions and ways to work cross-culturally with respect and humility. Experiential portion includes role-play, simulations, and aesthetic responses.

Photo Credit: EXA Banner Photos by LissaIvy Tiegel

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