Chicago | Master of Arts
Adler University’s Master of Arts (M.A.) in Counseling: Art Therapy program prepares socially responsible counselors to use the creative process to improve individuals’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of some of society’s most marginalized populations. Students gain the knowledge and skills to create real change in individuals’ lives through art.
Our innovative program is approved by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), and graduates are eligible to apply for several licensures and credentials.
The M.A. in Counseling: Art Therapy is designed to prepare counselors and art therapists to serve diverse populations in a range of settings, from clinics and mental health centers, to correctional settings and private practice.
This program also allows students to add on a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling for an additional 12 credits of coursework.
Our innovative program is AATA-approved, key for job placement and obtaining licensure. Our rigorous curriculum focuses on using counseling methodologies, art therapy, and art making to foster personal growth, gain deeper insight, and to apply clinical training in counseling and art therapy within the context of the Adlerian principles of social responsibility, service in the community, and cultural competence. Our dual-degree program prepares students to be both counselors and art therapists, through a clinical-based model, where students are supervised at their clinical sites by not only an art therapist, but also a licensed counselor, psychologist, social worker, or couple and family therapist. A third and fourth component of our degree is that we incorporate Adlerian Theory/Individual Psychology and Adlerian Art Therapy into the curriculum, giving our students additional techniques and healing modalities to apply in clinical practice.
We offer an immersive learning experience across diverse areas of study, including courses in Neuroscience; Trauma, Loss, Grief, and Bereavement; Adlerian Psychology and Psychopathology; Special Populations and Adaptive Methods; Socio-Cultural and Multi-Cultural Approaches to Art Therapy, Counseling, and Psychotherapy, as well as studio coursework—all led by core faculty members and adjunct professors who are experts in the field. Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training professionals who are committed to a more just society.
Our groundbreaking program is designed to prepare counselors and art therapists to serve diverse populations in a range of settings, including:
Gain the knowledge and skills to create real change in individuals’ lives through art. Our diverse faculty brings together rigorous classroom learning with individualized mentorship, artistic guidance, and hands-on professional experience.
We offer extensive field training, including a 700-hour+ counseling and art therapy practicum focused on the clinical work and principles of art therapy in hundreds of settings such as schools, mental health centers, and community organizations.
Rachel Ackerman, M.A. ’17
Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy
By the time I got to Adler University, I already knew I wanted to become an art therapist, combining two of my three passions. Adler stuck out to me because the counseling and art therapy program focused more heavily on clinical mental health and psychology as fundamental building than other schools. However, I still yearned to somehow incorporate infant interaction.
The credential of Registered Art Therapist (ATR) through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), may be attained upon completing all necessary post-graduate training.
Students are eligible to take the exam for the Licensed Professional Counselor exam (LPC) credential in the state of Illinois, and the National Counselor Examination (NCE) may be attained upon completion of the program.
The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in the state of Illinois may be attained upon completing all necessary post-graduate requirements. Students interested in applying for licensure elsewhere should work with their appropriate state licensing boards and faculty advisors to plan their curriculum accordingly.
The Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy is a 64-credit hour program, and includes coursework and a training practicum from those listed below.
Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University Course Catalog.
This one-hour, once-a-week seminar is required of all students in their first term. This course will provide students opportunities to meet in small groups with peers and one faculty member who will also serve as the students’ Faculty Advisor.
This course is designed to provide students with a solid foundation for the ethical practice of art therapy and of counseling. Students will learn the codes of ethics of the American Art Therapy Association, the Art Therapy Credentials Board, and the American Counseling Association.
Students learn theory and research on the role of community psychology in treating problems related to a range of pervasive social justice issues that impact the health of individuals and communities. Community Psychology takes an ecological approach to human functioning, locating health and dysfunction in the interaction between individuals and larger social systems.
This course introduces and integrates advanced methods of historical and theoretical approaches to counseling along with the principles of Alfred Adler’s theory and philosophy of communities and human kind as a basis for understanding the development of an individual’s unique style of living or personality. These principles include the purposiveness of behavior, the indivisible self, goal-directed behavior, and the role of social interest in mental health and social progress.
This course provides an opportunity to develop family and child guidance, parenting knowledge and skills, as well as instruction and behavioral skills based on Adlerian principles to be used by teachers in the classroom. Through lecture, class discussion, observation, and participative demonstrations, students are taught how to facilitate a family or parenting group or teacher training group.
This course provides an introduction to substance use and the treatment of addictive disorders. Assessment of substance use disorders and current treatment models for substance use, misuse, abuse, dependence, and concurrent disorders are discussed.
Prerequisite: MACAT-523. This course examines a person’s career trajectory and dynamics within the context of the lifestyle, including Adlerian Theory and the use of the Adlerian Lifestyle Assessment. Students learn to assess career interests, aptitudes, and options.
This course provides an overview of the major disorders in the current edition of the DSM. A range of mental disorders, from adjustment disorders to serious psychopathologies, is discussed.
This course teaches art therapy and counseling students basic and in-depth relationship micro- and macro-counseling and psychotherapy skills that use role-plays, artwork, art-making, art directives, and other experiential activities to demonstrate these concepts. The course covers counseling skills (e.g., attending, active listening, building rapport), intake interviewing, and self-reflection/self-assessment procedures and other experiential activities to prepare for clinical work on practicum.
This course is an introduction to approaches to research design, data collection methodology, and data analysis, with a focus on the field of art therapy. It emphasizes the importance of evidence-based research in advancing the field of art therapy and counseling.
This course introduces the history, philosophy, theory, and practice of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy within the fields of counseling, mental health, and psychology. The fundamental elements of the history and theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy are addressed with attention to the theoretical foundations of each field of study.
This course introduces and assists students in expanding their counseling knowledge and skills, as well as their art therapy knowledge and skills. Students will learn to formulate treatment goals and intervention strategies integrating theory, assessment, and diagnostic information for a variety of client problems, including assessing and managing suicidal risk and crisis intervention.
This course introduces students to the history, theory, methods, principles, and applications of group dynamics, as well as the developmental stages of groups. In addition, group members’ roles and behaviors and the therapeutic factors of group work are discussed.
This course presents an overview of various art therapy and counseling models and theories in the discussion of the characteristics, developmental needs, and tasks at different stages of a person’s life cycle. The impact of social, cultural, biological, and psychological factors on prenatal life, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging is discussed.
This course provides a basic foundation of knowledge, awareness, and skills needed for providing more effective counseling services in a trans-multicultural society. The course covers theories, research, and practices associated with trans-multicultural competence with emphases on both between-group and within-group differences and the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, country of origin, disability, and socioeconomic status.
This course covers crisis intervention models, including an Adlerian approach, and associated responses to clients’ mental health needs during crises, disasters, and other trauma-causing events. Strategies and procedures for assessing risk, including suicide, aggression, and self-harm are discussed and demonstrated through counseling assessments and interventions in addition to art therapy assessments and interventions.
This course addresses the relationships among counseling, neuroscience, biology, art, creativity, perception, and memory as they relate to the application and practice of counseling, psychotherapy, and art therapy, including Adlerian Theory.
This course provides studio time to gain skills, develop visual art techniques, explore artistic creativity via materials and media in art therapy through visio-spatial and perception skills as they relate to counseling and psychotherapeutic health and wellness goal setting for clients. Students explore personal creativity in relation to the art therapy and counseling profession.
This course develops student competencies by utilizing conceptual frameworks and best practices for the appropriate selection and use of a wide range of art media, including processes and adaptive measures that incorporate medical art therapy and technology within special populations.
The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that begins in the fall term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.
The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that continues through the spring term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.
Prerequisites: Completion of a minimum of 27 credit hours of coursework, including SJP 513, SJP 514, MACAT-510 MACAT-523 or MACAT-525 or; MACAT526 MACAT-527 MACAT-518 MACAT-650 MACAT-653 or concurrent with MACAT-677; and consent of Chair and Director of Training required. This clinical
practicum in an approved agency or institution requires 700 hours onsite with at least 350 hours in direct client contact.
Prerequisites: MACAT-667; concurrent with MACAT-678. Along with the field experience, students receive individual supervision by faculty and attend group supervision in seminar. The seminar is designed to be responsive to students’ practicum experiences and concerns for their clients and sites.
Prerequisites: MACAT-668; concurrent with MACAT-679. Along with the field experience, students receive supervision by faculty and attend group supervision in seminar. The seminar is designed to be responsive to students’ practicum experiences and concerns for their clients and sites.
Prerequisites: Completion of a minimum of 27 credit hours of coursework, including MACAT-510, MACAT-523, MACAT-525, MACAT-526, MACAT-527, MACAT-518 or MACAT-650, MACAT-653. This clinical practicum in an approved agency or institution requires a minimum of 700 hours onsite, with at least 350 hours in direct client contact.
Prerequisites: Completion of a minimum of 27 credit hours of coursework, including MACAT-510, MACAT-523, MACAT-525, MACAT-526, MACAT-527, MACAT-518 or MACAT-650, MACAT-653; concurrent with MACAT-667/ MACAT-668. This clinical practicum in an approved agency or institution requires a minimum of 700 hours onsite, with at least 350 hours in direct client contact.
This clinical practicum in an approved agency or institution requires a minimum of 700 hours onsite, with at least 350 hours in direct client contact. Practicum also provides supervision, peer support, and consultation that instills an understanding of the process of psychoeducational consultation with emphasis on theories and strategies that are used to provide services to individuals, groups, and organizations.
This extended practicum course is offered in Summer II and is for students in need of additional practicum hours. This clinical practicum in an approved agency or institution requires a minimum of 700 hours onsite, with at least 350 hours in direct client contact.
A unique and proven program designed to give students real world experience throughout their time at Adler University, the Social Justice Practicum is a required 200-hour internship that spans four courses (or terms for online programs). Every student is given a number of civic-minded categories to choose from. They submit their desired areas of interest. After which, they are assigned a specific and aligned community outreach site where they will work 8 to 10 hours per week.
Jennifer LaCivita, Psy.D.
Department Chair, M.A. in Counseling: Art Therapy
As an Adler graduate, advocate of the arts in the community, and a witness to urban revitalization through the arts, I value self-expression, self-reflection, critical thinking, and arts advocacy. As a fourth generation Chicagoan, my roots in neighborhood support, social responsibility, unity in diversity, and activism run deep.
Applicants are required to submit the following items to be considered for admission:
Approved applicants will be invited to complete an interview with faculty.
Please submit all application materials including official transcripts to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.
Adler University – Office of Admissions
17 N. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60602
Official electronic transcripts should be sent to [email protected].
Tuition for Adler University’s programs is charged each term according to the number of registered academic credits. The number of credits a student will register for varies by academic program and by term. To estimate the amount of tuition and fees that would be charged in a given term, please use our Tuition Estimator tool below, or read about tuition and fees for all Chicago programs.
Adler University President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., wrote an article for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges sharing the essential principles that the University uses to develop a high-impact board.
Rachelle Barmann, M.A. ’19, shared her insight on art therapy in the Naperville Sun.
Adler University trustees reminded students, alumni, faculty and staff this week that they are not alone in the crusade for social justice. The University’s Board of Trustees shared a call-to-action letter encouraging community members to persist in the fight against inequities with courage.