The Drama Therapy curriculum has been carefully designed to provide a rigorous, multi-layered, paced, and immersive academic experience that will prepare you to apply drama therapy skillfully and ethically in many different contexts; assimilate an array of psychological theories; engage in meaningful consultations with other professionals in the field of mental health; critically review research in the field; be sensitive to difference and the impact of oppression; and deepen your capacities as a clinician. The courses are also crafted to provide a rich and intimate encounter with drama therapy processes in the hopes of nurturing personal growth while fostering palpable appreciation for the power of these methods.


I. Drama Therapy Concentration Courses - 21 units

PDT 5501 Drama Therapy Theory
PDT 5602 Drama Therapy Process and Technique
PDT 5603 Drama Therapy Practice
PDT 5605 Psychodrama
PDT 5607 Special Methods in Drama Therapy I: Developmental Transformations
PDT 5614 Advanced Improvisation and Playback Theatre
PDT 5626 Individual Drama Therapy*
PDT 5627 Trauma and Resilience: Embodied Approaches to Treatment
PDT 5628 Advanced Integrative Five Phase Model of Drama Therapy*
PDT 6604 Drama Therapy and Social Change
PDT 6607 Special Methods in Drama Therapy II: Advanced Developmental Transformations*
PDT 7700 Integrative Seminar in Drama Therapy

* Students choose one of these three advanced 1-unit courses. The others may be used as electives.

II. Counseling Psychology Courses - 20 units

MCP 5101 Professional Ethics and Family Law
MCP 5108 Psychopathology
MCP 5201 Human Development
MCP 6101 Human Sexuality
MCP 6102 Assessment and Treatment of Addiction Disorders
MCP 6103 Multicultural Counseling and the Family
MCP 6233 Introduction to Community Mental Health and the Recovery Model
MCP 6401 Research Methods
MCP 6502 Child Therapy

III. Counseling Courses with an emphasis in Drama Therapy - 17 units

MCPD 5604 Group Dynamics and Creative Arts Therapy
MCPD 5605 Family Dynamics and Therapy
MCPD 5608 Psychotherapy Theories and Practices
MCPD 5610 Therapeutic Communication
MCPD 6605 Advanced Family and Couples Therapy: Action-Oriented Approaches
MCPD 7602 Supervised Clinical Practicum: Case Seminar in Drama Therapy

IV. Electives - 2 units

Electives may be chosen from any courses offered at CIIS that are open and available to PDT students.

Additional Requirements for students choosing the LPCC track

The standard curriculum (above) meets academic requirements toward the MFT license. Students who would like to prepare for a different license, that of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, are required to take additional courses beyond the standard curriculum of the department. These 11 units also replace the 2 elective units and the 1 unit Advanced PDT course, for a total 68 units. The additional courses are:

MCP 5023 Advanced Treatment of Addictions
MCP 5109 Psychopharmacology
MCP 5646 Career Counseling Theory and Practice
MCP 6331 Psychological Assessment: Psychometric Theory

Overview: The First Year

Your first semester in the program features an immersive experience drama therapy. In Drama Therapy Process and Technique, you and the other members of your cohort engage in a drama therapy group process while examining that process on a meta-level. Other classes in this semester examine theories and approaches in drama therapy, developmental views of human psychology, and the clinical relationship. A lab in improvisation and Playback Theatre rounds out the first semester.

During the second semester, coursework emphasis shifts from the personal experience of drama therapy to developing facilitation skills. Drama Therapy Practice provides a laboratory for students to experiment with group leadership. Similarly, in Psychodrama, students are afforded an experience of psychodramatic techniques, while developing and practicing directing skills. Encouraging exposure to all the creative arts therapies, the Group Dynamics class affords experience and practice in group process using art, dance-movement, music, poetry and drama therapy. The second semester also includes coursework in Psychopathology and Assessment and training on the legal and ethical issues that confront the mental health clinician.

The Second Year - Beginning Your Clinical Career

Typically during the second year students begin their Clinical Practicum. This work is supported by the Drama Therapy Program via a Group Supervision 'Case Seminar' class in which students share their cases and receive feedback from experienced drama therapists. Because the Practicum demands a lot of time and energy, many students begin to slow the pace of their coursework. Others elect to focus on completing coursework, holding off the Practicum until a 3rd year.  Some finish the program in 2 years including 2 summers.

Coursework is focused on required psychology classes. Psychotherapy Theories and Practices, Family Dynamics, Clinical Research, Trauma and Resilience, Multicultural Counseling, Intro to Community Mental Health, and the particular issues that arise when working with alcohol and chemical dependency and spousal abuse, are some of the training topics. Students also have the opportunity for more in-depth training in Developmental Transformations or in Renée Emunah's Five Phase Model of drama therapy which was introduced in Process and Technique.


In preparation for Practicum, students are required to observe at least 45 hours of group drama therapy facilitated by a drama therapist. The Pre-Practicum is a first-hand opportunity for students to observe and experience a drama therapist in action without the responsibility of having to lead a group. The Pre-Practicum also affords students the chance to familiarize themselves with clinical settings, populations, and techniques. The department has a list of possible Pre-Practicum sites.

Diversity Training

The Drama Therapy Program is committed to advancing and promoting diversity, inclusion, and social justice throughout the core curriculum and through extracurricular involvement. As a pedagogic community we work collaboratively, faculty and students, to identify and challenge entrenched systems of racism, ableism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression in the classroom, clinical training situations, and therapeutic spaces toward cultivating social change.

All Masters in Counseling Psychology students at CIIS are required to participate in a one-day diversity training during their first year. This training usually takes place in the fall. The Drama Therapy Program Diversity and Anti-Oppression Training brings students and faculty together with the intent to increase awareness of antiracist and restorative practices in and out of the classroom.

Personal Therapy Requirement

Students must complete at least 50 hours of individual, group, or family therapy with a licensed clinician (MFT, LCSW, PsyD or an RDT), accomplished within a period of approximately six to 18 months during their course of study. 

Integrative Seminar and Capstone Project

The Capstone Project completed in the Integrative Seminar is an opportunity for the student to integrate learning throughout the program and develop it into a final presentation.  Please see the Self-Revelatory Performance page for more information on Capstone Projects.

Drama Therapy Actors

Drama Therapy Actors (DT Actors) is a unique project offered by our program. The DT Actors program gives drama therapy students with strong (often professional) acting backgrounds the opportunity to role play clients in CIIS psychology courses.

In clinical courses that use role play, it is helpful for depictions of clients to be realistic, nuanced, and psychologically rich. DT Actors aim to offer faculty high quality portrayals—to help students that are learning clinical skills and practicing being in the role of therapist gain experience that will seem very "real." The actors are capable of developing complex characters and detailed histories, responding authentically to the student-therapist's interventions, and sustaining dramatizations as long as needed.

These are paid 'gigs' that allow Drama Therapy students to flex their acting skills and benefit other students by performing authentic-feeling therapeutic experiences.

RA and TA Opportunities

Research Assistant (RA) and Teaching Assistant (TA) positions are available in the Drama Therapy program.

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