A Graduate Art Therapy Course Comes to Austin!


A Graduate Art Therapy Course Comes to Austin!

It’s always a shocker to others: the Lone Star State doesn’t have an art therapy master’s degree program.  Texans who want to pursue a career in art therapy should familiarize themselves with the list of graduate programs that have been approved by the Educational Program Approval Board, the entity that endorses graduate art therapy programs meeting certain content and curriculum requirements (CACREP would be the equivalent in the counseling world).  All of these programs lie beyond the state line (although the one in Indiana has a distance learning option that would allow someone to remain in Texas while earning a degree in the Hoosier State), so Texans who enroll in these should pursue their studies while keeping in mind the art therapy licensing requirements set forth by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.  Yes, it’s confusing to toggle between Texas and the rest of the country, but it’s what one has to do if one is going to be an art therapist in the Lone Star State.


If a full-blown graduate art therapy program is out of reach for you, how about a full-blown graduate art therapy course?  This coming fall, St. Edward’s University will offer Austin’s first-ever such opportunity: “Art Therapy: Theory and Practice”!  The course will be offered through the Master of Arts in Counseling program and taught by Bess Green, LPC-AT/S, ATR-BC, a real, live art therapist!  I’ve taken a sneak peek at the syllabus and can’t begin to convey my excitement about the ground that Bess is going to cover.  This experiential (yes! experiential!) course is guaranteed to move students far beyond stereotypical can opener (“hey, client—draw something and then let’s talk about it”) and cookbook (“hey, client—let’s do this cool art technique I saw on YouTube”) ideas about art therapy and the use of art in therapy.  Instead, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of a transtheoretical model that supports the therapeutic application of art media and methods with a variety of populations and a variety of treatment issues.  This model is the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC), a neurodevelopmental framework that guides art therapists in real time as they glean data by observing how clients’ information processing preferences, strengths, and challenges are manifested via the creative process.  This data is used to formulate treatment goals/treatment plans and develop client-specific art interventions that address these.


Because the Expressive Therapies Continuum is a stand-alone theory that has the unique ability to pair with other psychotherapeutic models, it enhances rather than interferes with a clinician’s theoretical orientation.  I studied under the creators of the ETC, Sandra Kagin (now Sandra Graves) and Vija Lusebrink, at the University of Louisville and use this model to conceptualize my professional practice with clients as well as with supervisees of various theoretical leanings.  Kagin and Lusebrink were ahead of their time when they created the ETC; I’m a student of the brain and see how the ETC parallels recent advances in the clinical application of neuroscience.  Once upon a time I started writing an article that illustrates these parallels, and someday I’ll finish it.  In the meantime, I’m happy to do PR work for the ETC, and I’m VERY happy to spread the good news about “Art Therapy: Theory and Practice”!  Look for this desert oasis—I mean Austin’s first-ever art therapy course—in St. Ed’s fall catalog.  This month may mark the official arrival of summer, but it’ll be autumn before you know it.


With appreciation for the important work you do,

Megan June 2013

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