Master of Arts in Art Therapy


Cathy Goucher, MA, ATR-BC, LCPC, LCPAT

Degrees offered



Main Campus


The NDMU Master of Arts in Art Therapy represents study related to one of the newest, unique specializations in the helping professions.   The Program of Study includes the study of studio art, photography and art history, and a psychology curriculum stressing a sequence of counseling, therapy, and developmental psychology classes.  

The MA in Art Therapy was designed to promote and support the advancement of women in a field in which many women express interest and where state and regional need is growing in hospitals, schools, and community health endeavors.

Students should plan to pursue licensure in order to meet requirements for practice in the field.  

Program Objectives

The Art Therapy Program, housed in Notre Dame of Maryland University’s historic Women’s College and the College of Graduate Studies, will prepare women and men for entry into the field of art therapy, with an emphasis on graduates who are strong practitioners and clinicians within the field.  Further, building on its tradition to educate students who transform their communities and work toward a culture of inclusivity and social responsibility, the program intends to have a strong emphasis on preparing clinicians who will give back to and meaningfully serve their communities, in addition to their work with clients. 

Art Therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of the visual arts and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques for helping clients improve cognitive abilities, psychological health, and sensory-motor functions.  Art therapists are trained in the theories of art therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, and standards of practice, assessment and evaluation, individual and group, as well as family therapy, human development, research methods, and multicultural issues.  Through the use of art media, the creative process, and often verbal processing of produced imagery, art therapists help clients manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, reconcile emotional conflicts and improve overall wellbeing. Notre Dame offers a comprehensive training program with a focus on the unique ability of art and art making to reveal thoughts and feelings, while ensuring students learn the skills involved in safely managing the reactions the creative process evokes in therapy and counseling with individuals at all stages of life. 

NDMU’s Masters in Art Therapy (MA) Program has been designed to ensure students will graduate with the necessary coursework and clinical internship hours needed for meeting the Art Therapy Credentials Board’s (ATCB) requirements for professional credentialing (ATR-BC), as well as Maryland licensure requirements (LGPAT/LCPAT). Students will submit application to the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists as they complete their studies in demonstration that educational requirements have been met and to ask that permission be granted to allow them to sit for the ATCB’s Board Certification exam and Maryland Jurisprudence Exam.  Achieving a passing score on this exam, the MA graduate will be licensed as an LGPAT, gaining entry into the field and eligibility to work as an art therapist in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, social service facilities, senior centers, government agencies, correctional facilities, schools, and community settings. Additionally, licensed art therapists have sufficient training across a variety of courses and disciplines as to be marketable not only in art therapy, but in general therapy and counseling positions, community programming, and within special education. 

The Master’s in Art Therapy is offered in a traditional face-to-face, full time or part time format in the liberal arts tradition. In the full-time format, the 64 credit Program of Study, including 1,000 total hours of practicum and internship, should be completed within three years.  Students must maintain a 3.0 (B) Cumulative Grade Point average to remain in Good Academic Standing. Students whose Cumulative Grade Point Average falls below 3.0 will be placed on Academic Probation status. Students on Academic Probation will be given three semesters (in which they register for a course) to raise their Cumulative Grade Point Average to 3.0. Failure to do so, or receiving more than two grades below a B, will result in Academic Dismissal from the graduate program. These provisions do not apply to students admitted provisionally; provisions governing that status are identified in the Letter of Admission.

NDMU is committed to preparing competent entry level Art Therapists in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning domains that have been defined by the American Art Therapy Association Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. As the curriculum is informed by the requirements set forth by the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education for educational programs in Art Therapy, graduates will have knowledge and ability to:

      1. Understand the historical development of Art Therapy as a profession, Art Therapy theories and techniques, as a foundation for contemporary Art Therapy professional practice.
      2. Distinguish among the therapeutic benefits of a variety of art processes and media, strategies and interventions, and their applicability to the treatment process for individuals, groups, and families. 
      3. Recognize that Art Therapy, from a multicultural perspective, takes into consideration the specific values, beliefs, and actions influenced by a client’s race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, political views, sexual orientation, geographic region, physical capacity or disability, and historical or current experiences within the dominant culture.
      4. Select culturally and developmentally appropriate assessment and evaluation methods and administer and interpret results to identify challenges, strengths, resilience, and resources for Art Therapy treatment planning.
      5. Develop culturally appropriate, collaborative, and productive therapeutic relationships with clients.
      6. Know federal and state laws and professional ethics as they apply to the practice of Art Therapy.
      7. Recognize and respond appropriately to ethical and legal dilemmas using ethical decision-making models, supervision, and professional and legal consultation when necessary.
      8. Recognize clients’ use of imagery, creativity, symbolism, and metaphor as a valuable means for communicating challenges and strengths and support clients’ use of art-making for promoting growth and well-being.
      9. Recognize the legal, ethical, and cultural considerations necessary when conducting Art Therapy research.
      10. Apply principles of human development, artistic and creative development, human sexuality, gender identity development, family life cycle, and psychopathology, to the assessment and treatment of clients.
      11. Understand professional role and responsibility to engage in advocacy endeavors as they relate to involvement in professional organizations and advancement of the profession.
      12. Continuously deepen self-understanding through personal growth experiences, reflective practice, and personal art-making to strengthen a personal connection to the creative process, assist in self-awareness, promote well-being, and guide professional practice.
      13. Pursue professional development through supervision, accessing current Art Therapy literature, research, best practices, and continuing educational activities to inform clinical practice. 
      14. Recognize the impact of oppression, prejudice, discrimination, and privilege on access to mental health care, and develop responsive practices that include collaboration, empowerment, advocacy, and social justice action.
      15. Understand the basic diagnostic process and the major categories and criteria of mental disorders, corresponding treatments, and commonly prescribed psychopharmacological medications.

Courses will include a balance of didactic and experiential, art media and process enriched, aspects. This intentional construction of coursework will enhance the integration of theoretical approaches with practical application.  Full time students may enroll in nine to fourteen credits during fall and spring semesters; nine credits for summer semester. Part time study is possible, though can be challenging, and study is best completed within several years. Students considering part-time study are advised to contact the Program Director to discuss the potential for mapping out clear expectations and a course of study. Classes are scheduled in the evenings and occasionally on weekends to accommodate working professionals and to allow for greater flexibility within daytime hours for practicum/internship experience. The Program will culminate with a Capstone Thesis.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts in Art Therapy Program of Study at NDMU, applicants must have completed a BA or BS degree with a Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.  There is no GRE requirement for admission. Applicants must complete the General Requirements for Graduate Admission and the following Program requirements:

  1. A statement of purpose in APA format detailing: affinity for working with people; motivation for pursuing career in art therapy; personal meaning of art and/or creativity in the candidate’s life; creative strengths and areas of anticipated growth.

    This essay is in addition to the general essay required for the Graduate Application.

  2. Two letters of recommendation.
  3. Art portfolio for review. Portfolio to include: minimum of 15 pieces reflecting knowledge of a range of materials (two and three dimensional media) and techniques. Actual works or high resolution photos of work acceptable. Expressive work and that not exclusively created as assignments preferred.
  4. Coursework prerequisites:
      • A minimum of 18 credit hours in studio art including drawing (3), painting (3), and ceramics or photography (3);
      • A minimum of 12 credit hours in psychology including child/adolescent or human development and abnormal psychology; and,
      • At least 12 hours of the studio art and at least 9 hours of the psychology must be completed prior to admission with the remaining being completed within the first year of enrollment in the program.

Requirements are consistent with the standards set forth by the American Art Therapy Association Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs

Curriculum (64 credits)

ATP 5XX History and Theory of Art Therapy

Explores the rich underpinnings of the field of art therapy predating its formal establishment as a discipline, including psychiatric interest in spontaneous image creation and the relationship to behavior, psychiatric condition, and expression of experience. Through examination of historical texts and theory, as well as examination of contemporary literature and research in the field, students will gain understanding of the history and development of the discipline of art therapy and how it is practiced today within clinical and community based settings.  Attention will also be given to how both the process and product of art therapy are integral to growth and healing for clients.  Students will work toward understanding how art “speaks” and how internal experiences find expression through creative materials and provide products that promote interpersonal connection and psychologically restorative opportunities. Art making in and outside of class will provide a critical means through which students learn how the creative process is informed by and is an expression of the self and one’s internal, psychological experiences. This course is a prerequisite to all other graduate Art Therapy courses. (3 credits) 

ATP 5XX Professional Ethics and Legal Issues

Integrates understanding of ethical, professional, and legally informed practices toward development of professional identity as an art therapist.  Examines service provision and ethical decision making in mental health, educational, medical, and community-based settings. The critical roles of supervision, documentation, collaboration with related service professionals, advocacy for client needs and for the profession of art therapy, and professional organizations and credentialing agencies will be explored. (3 credits) 

ATP 5XX Art Therapy in Counseling

Explores various theoretical approaches including psychodynamic, cognitive/behavioral, and humanistic approaches along with current counseling trends and their relation to art psychotherapy approaches, emphasizing integration. Introduces and provides initial opportunity, via in class experiential exercises, for practice of establishing and developing the therapeutic relationship through verbal and art mediated counseling processes. Students will develop an approach sensitive to clients' and counselors' cultural backgrounds, personal philosophies, wellness, and presenting needs. Case presentations and experiential exercises will guide class discussions. Students will articulate their own developing theoretical orientations. (3 credits) 

ATP 5XX Human Development and Art Therapy

Examines the stages of human growth and development and offers students opportunity to scaffold assessment and treatment of typical and atypical individuals across the lifespan. Study of normative developmental stages of art will provide students a contextual lens for assessing and considering how atypical development might be therapeutically addressed.  Students will additionally consider the influences of culture upon an individual or family’s growth and development.  Students will gain and demonstrate understanding of development as a continuum and clients’ capacity for growth within the continuum across the lifespan. (3 credits) 

ATP 5XX Research Methods 

Provides foundation in statistical analysis and research design for use in the social science fields and practicum settings.  Students will be provided opportunity to understand the purposes, methods, and cultural, legal, and ethical considerations of research and demonstrate the requisite skills to design and conduct a study. (3 credits) 

ATP 5XX Techniques and Media of Art Therapy

Provides an in-depth, experientially based framework for integrating understanding of psychological properties of materials, as well as foundational understanding of how to provide art making processes and materials in an ethical, safe, and culturally informed way within art therapy practice and in treatment planning.  Careful study of current research regarding the properties and effects of art processes and materials, including the Expressive Therapies Continuum, will be undertaken.  Consideration of best practices for adaptation of materials and methods for work with individuals with disabilities will be incorporated.  Contraindications for use of various materials and methods and with regard to public display of client art will also be explored. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Group Process (3)

Develops students’ skills and abilities toward integrating group therapy theory and practice within the delivery of art therapy.  Students will integrate theory, processes, and dynamics of group work to form and facilitate ethically and culturally responsive art therapy groups. Development of group purpose and goal setting as related to the population served will be a focus.  Principles of group dynamics, member roles, group composition, and time-limited, as well as long-term group processes will be explored. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Art Therapy & Community Practice for Social Justice (3)

Engages students in NDMU mission driven thinking around the practice of art therapy within community based settings serving marginalized populations. Through exploration of the psychosocial needs of and cultural considerations when working with various marginalized groups, students will develop small scale art therapy workshops and pilot programs in an effort to meaningfully impact representation and access for targeted populations within the region.  (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Social and Cultural Diversity

Engages student in experiential exploration of self with regard to one’s own heritage, world view, attitudes and beliefs. This exploration is placed within the context of preparation for therapeutic work with diverse communities and development of cultural competence and understanding of identity development.  Exploration of current multicultural trends and issues, including privilege and oppression, will also be included.  (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Substance Abuse Counseling

Provides an overview of the application of art therapy and counseling theories and techniques when treating and supporting recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Students will be introduced to screening and assessment tools and treatment models specific to the field of addictions.  Art therapy techniques employed in the treatment of substance abuse for adolescents and adults in a variety of treatment settings will be explored. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Career Counseling

Explores art therapy techniques in the service of helping clients discern their career interest and career paths from a developmental perspective.  Applies art therapy approaches to helping clients resolve vocational conflicts and to promote growth in the vocational aspect of the client’s life while working through quality of life issues.  Surveys occupational counseling and career development theory toward enabling clients to address skills and aptitude, including an art therapy approach. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Assessment

Examines a wide range of specific art therapy procedures and tools used in therapeutic appraisal and evaluation.  Exploration of the validity and reliability of art therapy assessments, related current and ongoing research with regard to art based appraisal, and parameters as to the extent to which assessments inform a client’s diagnostic profile and impact treatment planning will be a focus.  Report writing and understanding of statistical concepts will be included.  Attention will also be given to cultural, ethical, developmental, and legal considerations in administration and interpretation of art therapy and related mental health assessments and exams. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Psychopathology: Art and Diagnosis

Examines major categories of psychiatric diagnoses using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) multiaxial system and/or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), as well as theories of psychopathology.  Students will engage further through examination of relevant literature and develop understanding of evaluation of potential art-based and behavioral indicators of mental disorders.  Ethical considerations and the effects that culture and society have on individuals with mental illness will be highlighted.  A basic introduction to psychopharmacology will be included in this course, as well as ongoing conceptual developments in neuroscience.  (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Process: Art Therapy and Counseling

Engages student in a deep, experiential understanding of the creative process as essential to practice of art therapy and how one might view and integrate counseling theories through such a lens. Students will be challenged to apply knowledge of creativity, symbolism, metaphor, and artistic language within the therapeutic relationship and to demonstrate belief in the value of using art making as a means to exploring self.  Multicultural considerations, as well as application within group and individual formats, will be interwoven in the course material. Prerequisite: ATP 5XX Art Therapy in Counseling (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Art Therapy with Children and Adolescents

Explores the practical, theoretical, and ethical considerations involved in treating children and adolescents in a variety of settings. Treatment of children and adolescents within a developmental framework and application of art therapy and counseling principles and practices for a variety of child and adolescent populations will be the focus of coursework. Specific interventions for varied DSM–V diagnoses will be introduced and further explored. (3 credits)

ATP 6XX Thesis Project Graduate Seminar

Integrates theoretical and clinical experiences toward an understanding of the literature and direction of current research in the discipline. Students will complete a research and clinically based portfolio that will demonstrate the integration of studio skills, art therapy theory, art therapy science, and art therapy practice (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Marital and Family Art Therapy

Provides an overview of work with families and couples, including an examination of systems theories and stages of family life cycle development.  Culturally informed art-based techniques for evaluating and therapeutically addressing family dynamics will be explored.  Ethical considerations for marital and family work will be included. (3 credits)

ATP 5XX Art Psychotherapy and Trauma

Provides an introduction to theory and treatment related to trauma-related issues.  The science of traumatic stress and efficacy of trauma treatment through the creative process, specifically through art, will be explored, introducing students to trauma-informed art therapy practice. (3 credits)

Additional Practicum and Internship requirements TBD

Two courses selected from the following:

ART 5XX Graduate Studio Workshop

Students work independently with traditional and contemporary drawing, painting, and mixed-media techniques to develop an individual approach to art making.  Students work in consultation with faculty and meet as a group to workshop and critique concepts and techniques. (3 credits)

ART 5XX Graduate Clay Workshop

Students work independently with traditional and contemporary approaches to ceramic materials and processes to develop an individual approach to art making.  Students work in consultation with faculty and meet as a group to workshop and critique concepts and techniques. (3 credits)

ART-509 Graduate Photography Workshop

Promotes the visual literacy and technical skills to allow students to effectively use photography as a visual means of communication. Students will develop a critical and contextual understanding of photography within the framework of contemporary art and visual communication while exploring the theoretical perspectives, artistic and practical applications of digital photography. (3 credits)