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

What are the differences between the certificate and concentration in the Appalachian State University's Expressive Arts Therapy program?

Expressive Arts Therapy Concentration

Expressive Arts Therapy Certificate

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.

Does the Appalachian State Expressive Arts 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 classes as an undergraduate?

No. You need to be enrolled in a Master's Degree, at Appalachian State University, within one of the helping fields (counseling, school counseling, social work, etc).

Click here for specific questions about Admissions

Questions About Being an Expressive Arts 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. Students are also encouraged to submit poetry and artwork to Headwaters, the Appalachian Journal of Expressive Arts Therapy.

Is there an expressive arts student organization?

The expressive arts therapy honor society, Orchesis, is open to students who have completed or are enrolled in an expressive arts course, and who are in good academic standing. Inductions are held in the fall and spring. Orchesis sponsors student activities throughout the year. More information is located here.


Other Questions

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

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 program?

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. Applicants must have a Master's degree in a helping profession from a professionally accredited college or university or concurrent enrollment in a Master's level helping profession program at Appalachian State University. For more information on how to apply, please see this page.