About the EXA Program
Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, Concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy
The Expressive Arts Therapy program educates and trains the future leaders of the Expressive Arts Therapy field. We use the power of the arts as tools for human development & healing, psycho-spiritual growth, social change, and empowered self-agency. This is accomplished through an innovative Scholar-Artist-Practitioner model bridging gaps between academic knowledge, clinical practice and community engagement with the arts at the center. Our faculty considers each student to be a unique contributor to the learning community due to their diverse backgrounds, experience and interests.
The Expressive Arts Therapy program integrates a thorough education in theories and methods of psychotherapy with intensive training in expressive arts therapy and counseling psychology. This three-year full-time program covers individual, group, couples, and family therapy, and includes a year-long 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 (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).
The principles of liberation psychology and relational-cultural theory (RCT) provide overarching theoretical frameworks for the curriculum. The EXA program also provides students with foundational knowledge and skills of the major schools of psychotherapy through multicultural and feminist lenses. These include contemporary psychoanalytic and psychodynamic approaches; Jungian; existential-humanist; cognitive-behavioral; mindfulness-based; narrative and constructivist; as well as a range of family systems approaches.
The program places a high premium on sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of the very diverse communities of the USA in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual preference, differing abilities, and socioeconomic status. This is reflected in all aspects of the formal curriculum as well as in our approach to pedagogy in the classroom.
Action learning and continuous self-assessment will be designed around personalized learning goals. Students will articulate their specific goals for each semester, discuss them with peers and faculty advisers, and then solidify them in Individual Learning Contracts.
Hands-on training occurs in classes and weeklong, intensive residential seminars held in SF once per semester for students and faculty in both programs. New theoretical, experiential, and expressive arts skills are then integrated into the student's work and in their communities. Additionally, they will be visiting and interviewing practitioners in their communities.
The EXA program maintains partnerships with community organizations, including GLIDE's Family Youth & Child Center and Contra Costa Health Services' Art of Health and Healing Program. Students in the full residential program go through a formal selection process to participate in these programs.
CIIS EXA students typically complete their clinical fieldwork in the third year, beginning in the fall semester.
In the second year, students are formally required to identify and secure a site where they can apply theory to practice in their local communities. Students may complete this requirement at their current workplaces or through voluntary work in the community, with the prior agreement of their academic adviser.
A dynamic program weaving the arts across the curriculum, enabling students to:
Photo Credit: EXA Banner Photos by LissaIvy Tiegel