Learn to guide change through
Art Therapy Overview
As a form of expressive therapy, art therapy draws on artistic media and the creative process to help improve an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art therapists are counselors trained to help people through art—as they cope with stress, traumatic experiences, or challenging relationships, and work toward personal insight and fulfillment.
Approved by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), our program combines innovative practical training and a rigorous curriculum focused on art-making and counseling methodologies to foster growth and improve coping skills. We train art therapists as socially responsible practitioners prepared to work in a wide range of clinical, educational, social service, community, and private practice settings.
As one of the nation’s largest and best-known art therapy programs, we graduate art therapists who are successfully employed in hospitals, schools, children’s agencies, nursing homes, correctional facilities, violence shelters, residential treatment centers, private practice, and other settings throughout the country.
Through comprehensive coursework and practical training, students learn how to select materials and interventions appropriate to client needs, and design sessions to achieve therapeutic objectives. Learning takes place in small, intimate classes in the Adler School’s state-of-the-art facilities, in warm, inviting studio spaces conducive to the artistic and therapeutic processes.
We provide an immersive learning experience with a diverse faculty—instructors who are practicing art therapists as well as scholars and researchers, with a wider range of professional experiences working with children and adolescents to adults and aging populations. Our faculty provides students with unparalleled academic and artistic support, and mentorship.
Through strong faculty support, a dedicated Training Department, and the School’s partnerships with hundreds of community agencies, our students gain valuable practicum and clinical experience at a range of training sites including urban community organizations, schools, clinics, hospitals, mental health centers, and facilities serving specialized populations.
Our program’s cohort model creates camaraderie among students and fosters interpersonal growth and skills development, both inside and outside of the classroom. Likewise, our individualized advising helps students succeed throughout their Adler School experience.
Licensure & Registration
Graduates of this program are eligible to apply for:
- Registration as an art therapist through the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), upon completion of supervised hours.
- Licensing as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the state of Illinois.
- The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in Illinois, upon completing all necessary post-graduate training. Because licensure requirements vary by state, students who anticipate applying for licensure elsewhere may need to acquire additional practicum hours or courses beyond the Adler School degree requirements. All students are encouraged to work with their faculty advisors and plan their curriculum accordingly.
- The National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, as well as sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) before graduation. Upon degree completion, students can submit their passing NCE scores to the State of Illinois licensing board, toward the fulfillment of state licensing requirements.
- A baccalaureate degree earned from a college or university regionally accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or an equivalent degree from an international college or university
- A GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale for undergraduate and graduate coursework
- Completion of the following 15 semester credit hours in psychology with grades of "C" or better:
- General or introductory psychology, abnormal psychology, theories of personality, and research methods or statistics. In addition, a course in lifespan development or child and adolescent development is required to meet AATA education standards. Equivalent coursework in other social sciences may also be considered.
- 18 semester credit hours, or 27 quarter credit hours, in studio art are required to demonstrate proficiency and disciplined commitment to visual art in 3 or more media
- A portfolio of original art work: 15 examples in three or more different media demonstrating competence with art materials
- Applicants who meet the admission standards will be invited for an interview with faculty