Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Expressive Arts Therapy

What's the difference between Expressive Arts Therapy and Art Therapy?

The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA) defines Expressive Arts Therapy as a combination of "the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing and other creative processes to foster deep personal growth and community development. IEATA encourages an evolving multimodal approach within psychology, organizational development, community arts and education. By integrating the arts processes and allowing one to flow into another, we gain access to our inner resources for healing, clarity, illumination and creativity."

The American Art Therapy Association defines Art therapy as "an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions. Art therapists use art media, and often the verbal processing of produced imagery, to help people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight."

What is the connection between Expressive Arts and Therapy?

In some sense, all problems in living can be thought of as a failure of the imagination, an inability to envision solutions, garner resources, or initiate movement out of a place of restriction. Expressive arts therapy emphasizes artistic experience as a tool for self-discovery and self-expression, for the integration of physical, mental, emotional and social functioning, and for building community.

How does Expressive Arts Therapy differ from traditional art therapies?

Whereas traditional single modality arts-based approaches, (such as dance therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, art therapy and poetry therapy) emphasize the particular modality, expressive arts therapy integrates and embraces all the modalities, sometimes layering several art modalities in one session. The emphasis is on the healing power of the artistic experience itself, the human capacity to give shape and form to thoughts, emotions and life experience.

Can expressive arts therapy be incorporated into other methods of therapy?

The expressive arts philosophy and way of working integrate well with many approaches. However, simply using expressive art activities such as having a client move or draw does not constitute expressive arts therapy.

What is the connection between Expressive Arts Therapy and Ecotherapy?

Our inspiration and model for creativity lies in our connection with the cycles of nature, the seasons of the day, the month, the year, the human life. We create as we are created in a matrix of interconnectedness with all of life. We are participatory in a creative universe.


Questions About our Program

Do I need to do anything after I finish the certificate program to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist?

Yes. You will need to complete supervision under a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist and apply for registration through the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. For more information, visit the IEATA website.

How long does it take to complete the certificate program?

The completion of the Expressive Arts Therapy certificate will depend on the student's usage of time, schedule management, and the availability of courses. Students who are only completing the graduate certificate will be enrolled on a part-time basis

Does the Appalachian State Expressive Arts Therapy program offer distance and /or online classes?

No. Due to the nature of our field, face-to-face contact is required. All of our classes have an experiential component that must be completed as part of the assigned classwork. All classes are offered weekly on campus.

Can I take Expressive Art Therapy classes as an undergraduate?

Students in the expressive arts certificate program have priority to register for expressive arts courses. Other graduate students enrolled in mental health-related graduate degree programs may enroll as well. When space permits, senior status students enrolled in a mental health-related degree program (e.g., music therapy) MIGHT be permitted to enroll in one expressive arts course. Contact the Expressive Arts Program Director for information.

What does it cost to complete the Expressive Arts Therapy certificate?

Students completing the certificate as a stand-alone program will need to pay tuition (including fees) per credit hour. Students completing the certificate as full-time graduate students in conjunction with a master's degree program on campus will pay tuition on a per-semester basis. Information about graduate tuition and fees can be found at and be sure to look at the appropriate in-state or out-of-state costs.

How do I apply?

Information regarding admissions can be found on the corresponding program pages.

Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate

Questions About Being an Expressive Arts Therapy Student

Will I have to participate in personal Expressive Arts Therapy?

Students are strongly encouraged to experience expressive arts therapy in order to better understand the impact on the client. Students are also expected to be engaged in ongoing personal practice in the arts.

Will I be expected to perform or to exhibit artwork?

Periodically there will be opportunities for students to perform and to exhibit visual art, however, this is not a requirement.

Is there an expressive arts student organization?

Orchesis Alliance is a student organization designed to bring together a therapeutic expressive arts community through shared creative processes, experiential workshops, and community participation. It is open to graduate or doctoral-level students in a helping or mental health related program such as counseling, therapy, or social work. More information is located here.


Other Questions

I have a master's degree but want to specialize my work in Expressive Arts Therapy.

You can apply to the certificate program to be considered and accepted into the Expressive Arts program. Applicants must have a Master's degree in a helping profession from a professionally accredited college or university to be considered in the application process. For more information on how to apply, please see this page.

What do I need to major in to be accepted into the Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate?

Many of our students have an interest or talent in a specific area of the arts. However, no formal art training or background is required, only a willingness and openness to engage and share in a variety of artistic experiences for growth and healing. Please see specific admissions requirements on the program pages: 

Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate