Program Overview

Expressive arts therapy is one of five master’s programs offered through CIIS’ Counseling Psychology department. The pedagogy provides an engaging online, hybrid curriculum that weaves multimodal expressive arts, such as visual and digital arts, music, dance and movement, poetry, spoken word, and drama, into all courses.

The program is three years of full-time study. Throughout, students engage with peers and faculty in a collaborative, liberatory-focused, arts-based environment. We place a premium on co-learning between students and faculty by creating opportunities for rich, playful, and diverse conversations and experiences. We also offer a part-time option which takes five-and-a-half years, for students with busy lifestyles.

The Expressive Arts Therapy program trains future leaders in the expressive arts therapy field. Our graduates are prepared for professional careers in private practice, mental health facilities, healthcare organizations, human services agencies, and schools. Our faculty have a variety of research interests, including creativity and spirituality among African Americans, multicultural and social justice counseling, education and supervision, neuro-diverse populations, homeless women, adolescents in residential rehabilitation, and the integration of the arts into spiritual practice.

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy

Length of Program
Number of Units
60 or 69
  MFT           LPCC  
Online Classes Icon
Online, Residential Intensives

Our Approach

The Expressive Arts Therapy program uses the power of the arts as tools for human development and healing, psycho-spiritual growth, social change, and empowered self-agency. We explore individual, group, couples, and family therapy practices from a liberatory perspective.

Our program emphasizes hands-on learning through experiential and collaborative coursework. During the second year of study, students have the opportunity to integrate theory and expressive arts into practice by volunteering or incorporating basic learning principles into their current job. In the third year, students engage in a year-long, supervised practicum to gain experience through face-to-face client work.

The Expressive Arts Therapy program uses an innovative Scholar-Artist-Practitioner model that unites academic knowledge, clinical practice, and community engagement with the arts as the central focus.

Upon completion of this master’s program, you will be able to:

  • Integrate a range of expressive arts practices into psychotherapy with individuals, couples, families, and groups; with sensitivity to differences including gender identification, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, differing abilities, socioeconomic status, and spiritual and religious practices.
  • Translate expressive arts interventions and processes into standard psychological language, and vice versa.
  • Articulate when expressive arts approaches are appropriate and when they may be contraindicated within particular clinical situations.
  • Weave together expressive arts and recovery-oriented principles and practices into treatment.
  • Demonstrate personal growth through the use of expressive arts practices.
  • Conceptualize and intervene holistically by addressing body, mind, and spirit.

Under SF Episode 6 with Danielle Drake in the Expressive Arts Therapy program. Expressive Arts Therapy In Practice Play Video
Play Video

Career Paths

CIIS’ Expressive Arts Therapy program integrates a thorough education in theories and methods of psychotherapy with intensive training in expressive arts therapy and counseling psychology. 

Our graduates work in a variety of psychotherapeutic contexts including:

  • Schools and education based settings
  • Community mental health, arts, and social justice organizations
  • Hospitals and residential treatment programs
  • Consulting and coaching
  • Private practice

The training meets the educational requirements for California's Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) license and California's Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) license. This program is also designed to meet the educational requirements to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA).

How to Apply

Application Open Dates

Apply for Spring 2023 starting September 15, 2022 - see a list of spring-admitting programs.

Apply for Fall 2023 starting November 15, 2022 - all programs accept fall applications.

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Questions? Contact us.

We are here to help! If you have any questions about applying to a program or registering for an Info Session, please reach out to the Admissions Office

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