Chicago | Doctorate
Adler University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Art Therapy program prepares researchers, educators, and scholars to train the next generation of clinical art therapists—and use human creative expression as a powerful catalyst for change. Taught by renowned experts, our curriculum emphasizes the potential of art therapy as a socially responsible practice to address some of today’s most pressing issues.
The doctoral program prepares students to be leaders in the field of art therapy, and for senior-level capacities as innovators, educators, and administrators who are committed to social justice. With its clinical core and emphasis on creating new knowledge, graduates may serve diverse populations in a range of settings—from academia to community organization, integrative healthcare systems to private practice.
Graduates of the program are also eligible to apply for several licensures and credentials.
Our innovative program offers students who hold a master’s degree in art therapy, counseling, or related fields a unique opportunity to advance their career as a leader in the art therapy field. Focused on scholarship, socially conscious pedagogy, Adlerian principles, and art-making, our students train to be leaders, equipped with the real-world experience, research background, and intellectual curiosity needed to think deeply about human creative expression.
We offer an immersive learning experience that brings together an ambitious community of individuals on a state-of-the-art campus in the heart of downtown Chicago. Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training professionals who are committed to a more just society.
Our doctoral program prepares leaders in the field of art therapy and beyond, for senior-level capacities as innovators, educators, and administrators. With its clinical core and emphasis on creating new knowledge, graduates may serve diverse populations in a range of settings—from academia to community organization, integrative healthcare systems to private practice. Potential career applications include:
Distinguishing Adler University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy is our focus on research excellence and the emphasis on Adlerian principles—the professional and academic advantage of our program. Graduates will complete a doctoral dissertation, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in in-depth scholarship on an important issue in the field of art therapy. Integrating science, practice, critical thinking skills, and ethical and cultural awareness, the completion of a dissertation is the culmination of mastery in a chosen specialization. Our diverse faculty brings together rigorous classroom learning with individualized mentorship, artistic guidance, and hands-on experience.
We offer extensive field training, including a 700-hour art therapy internship focused on the clinical work and principles of art therapy in settings such as schools, mental health centers, and community organizations.
Gain the knowledge and skills to create real change in individuals’ lives through administering in clinical healthcare practices as advanced supervisors, researchers and scholars, community advocates, clinicians, and educators, who use art therapy as a healing modality that contributes to advancing and providing new knowledge to the profession.
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
Students are eligible to pursue the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, as well as sit for the National Counselor Examination (NCE) upon graduation.
The Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) credential in the state of Illinois may be attained upon completing all necessary post-graduate requirements and training. Students interested in applying for licensure elsewhere should work with their appropriate state licensing boards and faculty advisors to plan their curriculum accordingly.
Successful completion of the 60-credit hour Doctor of Philosophy in Art Therapy program includes coursework and a training practicum from those listed below.
Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University Course Catalog.
This course will provide students with an opportunity to meet in a small group with peers and faculty. The professional orientation covers advisement and mentoring around Adler University degree requirements and mission and an orientation to the fields of art, art therapy, clinical supervision, education, advocacy, and art therapy research, informed by Adlerian values and concepts as they relate to the students’ personal and professional growth.
In this course, students will learn to think philosophically about human creativity symbol, image, and metaphor and the role of the arts for the advanced practice of art therapy. Historical and western perspectives of arts-relevant philosophies will be examined in relationship to the role of aesthetics in service of alleviating human suffering.
Integrating the Adlerian foundation of community engagement into current approaches to leadership will help the student gain skills in best practices in art therapy research, education, clinical supervision, program development and social advocacy.
This course will examine individual differences, primarily through the lenses of neuroscience, neuroaesthetics, and evolutionary psychology. The role of art and art-making in enhancing individual strengths will be a primary focus.
This course will continue to provide students with an opportunity to meet in a small group with peers and faculty. The professional orientation covers advisement and mentoring around Adler University degree requirements and mission and an orientation to the fields of art, art therapy, clinical supervision, education, advocacy, and art therapy research, informed by Adlerian values and concepts as they relate to the students’ personal and professional growth.
This course provides a continued exploration of art philosophy/aesthetics, focusing on Eastern, interdisciplinary approaches, and contemporary thinking such as eco-aesthetics. Students will gain an understanding of and appreciation for philosophies of art as these philosophies relate to current practices in the field of art therapy, particularly as they influence practices in clinical supervision, education and research.
This course will survey major qualitative research methodologies with an emphasis on ethical and socially responsible research practices. The course will include critical reviews of major qualitative methods, such as phenomenology, case studies, ethnographic and heuristic research designs.
This course focuses on how the Ethical Principles for Art Therapists set forth by the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) promote and maintain the standards of Art Therapy.
This course focuses on best practices in quantitative research and the application of both descriptive and inferential statistical analysis with a focus on art therapy. The course will include a critical review of current research, including design limitations and recommendations for improvement.
This course will give students an opportunity to research models and theories informing consultation and clinical supervision, including art-based supervision, in a variety of settings. A review of all dimensions of supervision will include the supervisory contract, the supervisory relationship and issues related to countertransference, diversity, gender, and power differentials.
This course focuses on the foundational principles, applications and cultural expressions within the field of thanatology. Topics to be examined include personal and societal attitudes towards death, dying, grief, bereavement, and loss as well as different models of grief.
This class explores the teaching and learning approaches to cultural and clinical mental health education, application, and practice through the exploration of epistemologies of justified beliefs and the rationale of different knowledge claims as they relate to Intersectionality in regards to race, ethnicity, language, spirituality, religion, values, beliefs, abilities, class, sexuality, gender and marginalized populations.
This course provides an overview of advanced statistical methods and techniques. Upon the completion of the course, students will be able to select and apply appropriate statistical methods to specific research questions.
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.
The Doctoral Internship and Seminar provides students with a ﬁeld experience designed to apply socially responsible practice within a focus of their choice, to engage in research activities, to enrich their professional portfolios, and to strengthen their career possibilities as researchers, clinical supervisors, and educators.
This is a continuation of the Doctoral Internship & Seminar experience toward the goal of completing the 700 hour requirement. This course focuses on the implementation of the student’s dissertation proposal developed and approved in Dissertation I.
The third term of externship field placement includes delivery of sport and human performance services under the mentorship of a sport psychology consultant who is certified by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CMPC). The field experience is paired with a seminar during which students utilize a peer consultation model to develop skills related to sport and health psychology and professional development.
The doctoral dissertation is designed to contribute to a student’s knowledge, skills, and values in scholarship and its importance to the practice of clinical art therapy. The student will engage in in-depth scholarship and research on an important issue in the field of art therapy.
Students will submit their study for review by Adler University’s Institutional Review Board. Completion of this phase is the goal of Internship I. Once IRB approval has been granted, the student will complete the necessary actions to conduct research and write the document.
Once students have received IRB approval, they may enroll in the Dissertation III. Completion of the project is the goal, including preparation for oral defense. Students successfully defend their doctoral dissertation before the dissertation committee.
Students choose four of the five elective course offerings with approval from their Faculty Advisor.
The Special Topics course is designed to examine special interests, including current and emerging issues and interdisciplinary topics. Topics will alternate and address the following: Advanced Lifespan Issues; Aging, Military Veterans and Families, Spiritual and Alternative Approaches to Healing, Advanced Adlerian Theory & Integrative Therapy Experientials & Interventions, and Advanced Methods and Theories of Intersectionality & Community Engagement.
This course provides an advanced examination of conceptualizations and approaches to trauma related to emotional, sexual, physical and political violence and terrorism, emotional abuse and neglect, including forms of system-induced trauma.
This course examines personal and interpersonal dimensions of the human sexual experience, including sexual issues in the context of oppression, liberation and social justice. Several domains that influence sexuality will be explored, including gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual attitudes and sexual behavior.
This course examines basic principles of expressive arts therapy, education and consultation; in particular the underlying theory that supports the integrated application of the arts in therapy. Course content will focus on what all art forms have in common.
This course covers the theoretical principles of individual psychology and Adlerian theory, including striving for holism, phenomenology, teleology, and social interest. This course addresses the cognitive, affective, and sociocultural dimensions of the individual’s development; the selectivity of perception in the formation of one’s worldview; motivational factors; creativity and the arts; and the indivisibility of the person.
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.
In addition to the admission requirements common to all of the Adler graduate programs, applicants to this program are required to have:
Applicants must submit the following in order to be considered for admission:
Applicants who are graduates in good standing from Adler University’s Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy program may have one letter of recommendation and/or interview waived. 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.
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