EXA Core Curriculum

This three-year program covers individual, group, couple, 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 license (MFT) and with additional coursework may also meet requirements for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) credential. The training is also designed to meet the educational requirements to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

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

Course Descriptions

Academic Intensives

Week-long, academic intensives are held in the SF Bay Area once per semester for students and faculty. New theoretical, experiential, and expressive arts skills are then integrated into the student's work and in their communities.

Please note the following information regarding the Academic Intensives:
- Location: San Francisco Bay Area
- Residency fee TBD

Psychotherapy Theories and Practices
Course Code: EXA 5501
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA Student

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 psychodynamic, Jungian, existential-humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, and collaborative approaches integrating feminist and multicultural perspectives, addressing intersections with trauma-informed practice. Creative arts-based case examples for various approaches are woven into the fabric of the class.

History and Foundations of EXA Therapy
Course Code: EXA 6036
Units: 1-2
Prerequisites: EXA student

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.

Multicultural Counseling and the Therapeutic Relationship
Course Code: MCPE 6604
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student

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. The experiential portion includes role-play, simulations, and aesthetic responses.

EXA Therapeutic Communication Lab
Course Code: EXAL 5602
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student

This class focuses on the integration of basic therapeutic communication skills into multimodal arts practice. Emphasis is on the development of the active listening skills that underpin the therapeutic relationship within an expressive arts context. This includes practicing the core conditions of empathy, relational responsiveness, aesthetic responsiveness, and “unconditional positive regard.”

Psychological Assessment and Creative Arts Therapy
Course Code: EXA 6064
Units: 3
Prerequisites: Priority to EXA students

This course covers the assessment, appraisal, and testing of individuals from standard psychological and creative arts perspectives. Principles and methods of standardized and non-standardized testing including creative arts assessments techniques will be reviewed.  Concepts will include understanding measurement development and construction, norm-referenced vs criterion-referenced assessment, statistical concepts, and evaluating reliability and validity of a variety of measures used to identify and assess a variety of human behaviors. Examination of the clinical efficacy and critique of measures of personality, intelligence, and behavior will additionally be explored. Students also explore social and cultural factors related to assessment and evaluation of individuals and groups and their application for initial intake and assessment, treatment planning, and ongoing evaluation using evidence-based creative arts techniques & interventions.  Students will evaluate ethical strategies for selecting, administering, and interpreting assessment instruments and techniques for diverse populations using cultural and trauma-informed methods. Students additionally engage in experiential practice by implementing multimodal expressive arts assessments and interventions and evaluating case studies highlighting different treatment milieus, client populations, clinical diagnoses, therapeutic goals, and related expressive arts interventions.

Group Dynamics and Therapy
Course Code: MCPE 5634
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 5501

The 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.

Family & Couples Dynamics I
Course Code: MCPE 5606
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 5501

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.

Research Methods
Course Code: MCPE 6403
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 5501

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to the philosophical, conceptual and practical foundations of qualitative and quantitative research design methodologies. The course will survey the most common designs of Arts-based Participatory Research (ABPR), qualitative inquiry and their theoretical roots, techniques of data collection and analysis, integration of qualitative and quantitative methods, and current issues related to culture and diversity.

The Arts in Therapy
Course Code: EXA 6055
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 5501

This course integrates the various concepts from the EXA masters program into a unified whole: integrative expressive arts skills; cumulative group experience; arts-based research and inquiry; and the EXA clinical experience of the practicum. With this integration, students will deepen their understanding of clinical communication across differences including those of race, social class, gender, ethnicity, and physical abilities. This seminar is an intensive learning process designed to demonstrate critical knowledge in the student's EXA therapeutic approach. It also demonstrates the ability to reflect critically upon all work accomplished during the course of the program, while clarifying professional goals.

The seminar course includes an oral and written clinical case presentation which demonstrates a cogent exploration of the student's philosophical underpinnings, knowledge of theoretical frameworks and current research in the field, and a detailed review of an example of the student's current clinical work. The semester concludes with a collaborative student-led community arts presentation for the larger EXA community, family, and friends.

EXA Approach: Narrative Expressive Arts Family Therapy
Course Code: EXA 6618
Units: 2
Prerequisites: EXA 5501

This class introduces students to the theories and practices that inform collaborative and narrative approaches to EXA. In this class, 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 & Lobovits). Students learn how to coauthor with clients' strength-based alternative narratives in written, visual, poetic, musical, and embodied forms.

Family & Couples Dynamics II
Course Code: MCPE 6606
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; MCPE 5606

This course builds on the foundational theories and practices of family and couples therapy studied in Family and Couples I. The primary emphasis of Part II is on the theories and practices of EFT and the Gottman Method, integrated within the larger Relational Cultural framework developed at the Stone Center. Students learn how to complete a family therapy case conceptualization. The course includes modules addressing issues related to blended families, interpersonal violence, migration stressors, divorce and separation, addiction, and illness. Students learn how to integrate the use of visual arts, music, movement, drama, and language arts in family and couples therapy practice. Prerequisites: EXA student; Family and Couples Dynamics I.

Expressive Arts Therapy Integrative Seminar
Course Code: EXA 5993 & 5994 
Units: 1 (5993) & 2 (5994)
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6056

Taken in the final year, this series of courses integrate personal, artistic, academic, and clinical elements of the program. The final projects include a personal journey statement, an integrative paper, and an oral presentation of a piece of original research from the student's practicum experience. The integrative paper articulates each student's philosophy and approach to expressive arts therapy as well as examples of clinical approaches.

EXA & Trauma
Course Code: EXA 6020
Units: 3
Prerequisites: MCPE 6606.

This class focuses on developing an understanding of what trauma is and how it functions. The course discusses the ways in which the body, the imagination, and one’s capacity to symbolize are affected due to trauma. Students will learn how to explore the ways that expressive arts and somatic psychotherapies can be effective as interventions in helping clients to recover from trauma.

Professional Development
Course Code: EXA 6853
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA 5501

This class focuses on the development of key skills in preparation for entering the professional world of counseling psychology. Topics include résumé development, website creation, writing grant proposals, and the fundamentals of establishing a private EXA practice

Supervised Clinical Practicum: Group
Course Code: MCPE 7604A & MCPE 7604B
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; criminal background check

The supervised clinical practicum course provides a presentation and discussion of case materials for students who are currently working in practicum sites. The course emphasizes case formulation, the therapeutic relationship, development of clinical skills, and integration of expressive arts processes. Prerequisites: EXA student; criminal background check.

EXA Approaches: Module I
Course Code: EXA 6088
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6036

Module I in EXA Approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development, and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated. Approaches can include visual arts, digital narrative remix, dance/movement, drama therapy, drumming, poetry therapy, sand tray/play therapy, etc.

EXA Approaches: Module II
Course Code: EXA 6089
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6088

Module II in EXA Approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development, and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated. Approaches can include visual arts, digital narrative remix, dance/movement, drama therapy, drumming, poetry therapy, sand tray/play therapy, etc.

EXA Approaches: Module III
Course Code: EXA 6090
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6089

Module III in EXA Approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development, and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated. Approaches can include visual arts, digital narrative remix, dance/movement, drama therapy, drumming, poetry therapy, sand tray/play therapy, etc.

EXA Approaches: Module IV
Course Code: EXA 6091
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6090

Module IV in EXA Approaches offers hands-on training in the theory and application of specific multimodal methods. While learning about the history, development, and core competencies of each method, students will have the opportunity to demonstrate ways these approaches can meet the recovery-oriented care needs of diverse individuals, couples, families, and communities. Students will also explore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated. Approaches can include visual arts, digital narrative remix, dance/movement, drama therapy, drumming, poetry therapy, sand tray/play therapy, etc.

Independent Study
Course Code: EXA 8799
Units: 1-3

Independent study offers coursework that extends a student's field of inquiry beyond current CIIS courses. This course requires a syllabus and contract signed by the student and faculty member involved in the independent study, and must be approved by the Program Chair.

MCP Core Courses

Professional Ethics and Law
Course Code: MCP 5101
Units: 3

This course studies professional ethics and statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws that delineate the scope of practice of marriage and family therapy; the therapeutic, clinical, and practical considerations involved in the legal and ethical practice of marriage and family therapy, including, but not limited to, family law; the current legal patterns and trends in the mental health professions; the psychotherapist-patient privilege, confidentiality, the patient dangerous to self or others, and the treatment of minors with and without parental consent; a recognition and exploration of the relationship between a practitioner’s sense of self and human values and his or her professional behavior and ethics; differences in legal and ethical standards for different types of work settings; and licensing law and licensing process.

Psychopathology & Psychological Assessment
Course Code: MCP 5108
Units: 3

This course provides a comparative historical and contemporary view of the development of adult psychopathology and the categorization system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Human Sexuality
Course Code: MCP 6101
Units: 1

This course explores personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions of sexual experience, including awareness, attitudes, meaning, expression, response, sexual counseling, and integration with personal development. It also includes the study of the physiological, psychological, and social-cultural variables associated with sexual behavior, gender identity, and the assessment and treatment of psychosexual dysfunction.

Assessment and Treatment of Addiction Disorders
Course Code: MCP 6102
Units: 3

This course covers addiction counseling, including substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and addiction. It focuses on the medical aspects of substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders; the effects of psychoactive drug use; current theories of the etiology of substance abuse and addiction; the role of persons and systems that support or compound substance abuse and addiction; major approaches to identification, evaluation, and treatment of substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addictions including, but not limited to, best practice, legal aspects of substance abuse, populations at risk with regard to substance use disorders; community resources offering screening, assessment, treatment, and follow-up for the affected person and family; recognition of substance use and appropriate referrals; and the prevention of substance use disorders and addiction.

Introduction to Community Mental Health & Recovery Model
Course Code: MCP 6223
Units: 2

This course is designed for students in MCP concentrations other than CMH. 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.

Child Therapy
Course Code: MCP 6502
Units: 2

This course provides an overview of theories and approaches in child therapy and explores techniques and intervention strategies to treat a variety of psychological conditions in children and adolescents. It covers the treatment of child relationships, trauma and abuse assessment and reporting, dysfunctions, and healthy functioning. Additionally, this course addresses the family and the intrapsychic world and the development of the self of the child in the context of social, cultural, and economic factors.

Pre/Post Practicum
Course Code: MCP 7603
Prerequisites: MCP student

Required of MFT trainees who wish to accrue hours toward licensure and who are not enrolled in Supervised Clinical Practicum (either Individual or Group). Online registration not permitted; instead, submit “Individual or Pre/Post Practicum” registration form.

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