EXA Core Curriculum

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  Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and is 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

Intensive Residential Seminars

Weeklong, intensive residential seminars are 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.

Please note the following information regarding the Intensive Residential Seminar:
- Location: The Whitcomb Hotel, Market Street, San Francisco.
- Residency fee is $300 per student
- Lunch for each day is included.
- Room & Board is not included. Discounted rates are available for students at The Whitcomb Hotel and there is an online community forum to encouraged collaboration and shared housing arrangements such as AirBnB.

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 the recovery model. Creative arts-based case examples for various approaches are woven into the fabric of the class.

Expressive Arts Therapy Integrative Seminar
Course Code: EXA 5995
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; EXA 6056
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, an integrative paper, and a 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.


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.

The Arts in Therapy I
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.

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

Psychological Assessment and Creative Arts Therapy is designed to build upon the information learned in the History and Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy course by exposing students to a wide range of expressive arts therapy practices in various settings with multiple populations. This course focuses on the initial stage of therapy including intake, psychological assessment, history-taking, evaluation, goal-setting and establishing rapport through the use of arts interventions.  We will read case studies highlighting different types of client populations, expressive arts experiences, therapeutic goals, and treatment milieus. We will look at specific assessment techniques using the various arts forms and begin practice in the implementation of EXA assessments and interventions. This course also builds on Psychotherapy Theories and Practices and Therapeutic Communications. We will examine how EXA interventions meld with psychotherapy theories you learned last semester. We will continue building on your therapeutic communication skills by working on translating these basic skills into EXA interventions.  We will also lay the ground work for more in-depth study in your EXA Approaches and other coursework.

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.

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

Module ll 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. The ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated.

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

Module lll 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.ore the ways these approaches intersect with standard psychological practice and when they may be clinically appropriate or contraindicated.

EXA Approach: Person Centered
Course Code: EXA 6609
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student

This course integrates Carl Rogers' evidence-based theory with multimodal arts practice in indiividual 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.

EXA Approach: Collaborative and Narrative Expressive Arts Therapy
Course Code: EXA 6618
Units: 2
Prerequisites: EXA 5522; 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.


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.

EXA Elective: Special Topics
Course Code: EXA 8888
Units: 1-3
Prerequisites: EXA student

A special topic course of study not currently encompassed in the curriculum but relevant to evolving topics of growing importance in expressive arts therapy may also be taken by approval of the student's advisor and Program Chair.

Professional Ethics and Law
Course Code: MCPE 5101
Units: 3
Prerequisites: Priority to EXA; MCPE 6601

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 & Psychological Assessment
Course Code: MCPE 5108
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student

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


Family Dynamics and Therapy
Course Code: MCPE 5605
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.

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.


Human Sexuality
Course Code: MCPE 6101
Units: 1
Prerequisites: EXA student

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


Assessment and Treatment of Addiction Disorders
Course Code: MCPE 6102
Units: 3
Prerequisites: Priority to EXA students

Survey of current treatment approaches to chemical dependency and examination of humanist-transpersonal perspectives.

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.


Child Therapy
Course Code: MCPE 6502
Units: 2

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

Couples Counseling
Course Code: MCPE 6601
Units: 3
Prerequisites: EXA student; MCPE 5605

This course surveys contemporary theories and practices within the field of couple therapy and their application in working with LGBT, heterosexual and polyamorous relationships. Students will be introduced to approaches including Object Relations, Jungian, EFT, Gottman Method, Narrative and Integrative within the larger Relational-Cultural framework developed at the Stone Center. Students learn how to integrate the use of visual arts, music, movement, drama, and the language arts in couple therapy practice.

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.

Supervised Clinical Practicum: Individual
Course Code: MCPE 7601
Units: 2
Prerequisites: EXA student; criminal background check

Students are required to take group practicum, and individual practicum is only available to students facing unusual, extenuating circumstances and only by approval from the program. EXA students only. An "NP" grade will be given if "Supervised Fieldwork Agreement" is not submitted to Field Placement Office by semester's end.

Supervised Clinical Practicum: Group
Course Code: MCPE 7602
Units: 2
Prerequisites: EXA student; criminal background check

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.

Pre/Post Practicum
Course Code: MCPE 7603
Prerequisites: EXA student

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

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

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.

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