Best Practices For Creative Arts in Psychotherapy 24 CEs


A semester long LIVE ONLINE course on how to effectively and responsibly integrate art into clinical practice. Be part of a 12 week community of therapists. This is a class you will look forward to every week. 

"Before participating in this course, I knew on a personal level how art and art making is therapeutic. This course gave me a framework for why and how it can be therapeutic for my clients."

Begins October 6, 2023 LIVE ONLINE via zoom
Fridays 9:00-10:30am for 12 weeks
24 CEs for NYS LCAT, LCSW, LMSW, LMHC, LMFT, and Licensed Psychologists.
Small class size. Max 16 students.
No meeting on 11/24 or 12/22. Last class is Jan 5, 2024.
Instructor: Drena Fagen, LCSW-R, LCAT
Tuition: $850
plus a $50-100 materials fee  Art supplies will be required for participation. Estimated cost based on specific brands. It is possible to use supplies you have on hand with only a few purchases of special items. 
NYS CE certificate provided on completion of course.

Payment Options: To reserve a spot and pay in three (3) installments click here.

Prerequisite: MA or PhD in social work, mental health counseling, psychology, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, or related field with approval of instructor. Second year students currently enrolled in a Masters program in these fields can also participate.

"I really liked the style of the course; the diversity of the projects and how they connected to the clinical material AND the small size of the class." 

—LCSW participant in 2022 course

Description of course activity content: This 24.0 hour (24 CEs) course will provide clinicians and practicing psychotherapists with a deeper understanding of the practical and treatment oriented use of the creative arts in therapy, with an emphasis on the visual arts in psychotherapy. Some presentations will include content on the use of drama therapy, music therapy and dance/movement therapy. This course will examine how to effectively and thoughtfully incorporate art into therapy with attention to designing interventions that are relevant to the needs of your clients and session goals. Participants will be introduced to responsible techniques for how to understand the artwork by co-constructing meaning and discussing the here-and-now process with clients. We will pay close attention to the relational dynamics of the therapist offering "assignments" during session and the transferential/countertransferential activation for client and therapist. Topics covered in this intensive, hands-on course include how to facilitate different facets of creative arts intervention such as process oriented, depth-oriented, problem-solving, and esteem-building. Learn how to plan projects that achieve your therapeutic objectives in the clinical moment. Discussion will include an overview of art therapy practice including New York State licensing, national certification and scope of practice guidelines. Course will review the advantages of art and nonverbal interventions including an understanding of basic media along the expressive continuum of control vs. regression.

A description of the teaching methods to be used:

  • We will MAKE ART every week!
  • Lecture and discussion to introduce creative arts therapy theory.
  • Role-play breakout rooms to practice  ‘therapist-client’ engagement and demonstrate the application of theory.
  • Group discussion of role-play experiences and impressions of activities to enhance learning and to gain perspective on the varied subjective experiences of group participants and to identify resistances that clients may experience when asked to complete tasks offered to them by their therapist.
  • Weekly course readings
  • Assessment of understanding of course content to meet requirements for NYS Continuing Education Credit

24.0 learning clock hours. This course is a slightly condensed version (12 instead of 15 weeks) of a masters level clinical course.

Curriculum topics week by week
Week 1:  Introduction to the creative arts therapiesUnderstanding different approaches to using the arts in therapy Review of national training standards, New York State licensing and scope of practice Art as therapy vs. art psychotherapy A modality or a profession, the controversy.

Week 2:  Client engagement: How to use the arts early and often. Connecting psychotherapy theory with creative arts therapy. Introducing art materials. Setting limits and boundaries (i.e. touch, mess, destruction). Art as play. Art as task mastery. Issues related to the transactional nature of "assigning" projects in the clinical setting.

Week 3: Structural analysis and best practices for "interpreting" art created in sessionPrinciples of pictorial analysis. Projective drawings and use of art assessments.

Week 4: Talking to the art: strategies and clinical considerations when discussing client imagery. Handling of artwork. Co-constructing meaning with clients. Art product as “other” (an Object-Relations approach). The attuned therapist during art making. Can I draw with my client? Clinical considerations when the therapist joins in artmaking

Week 5: Working with children. Developmental aspects of children’s artwork: Lowenfeld’s six stages. Differentiating drawing talent from developmental milestones. Incorporating art into different treatment approaches with children.

Week 6: Working with adolescents. Developmental considerations. Privacy and boundaries. Using art to engage and make contact. Choosing materials and designing projects Making meaning: dialoguing with the art.

Week 7: Adult treatment. Designing intervention to match treatment goals. Adult resistance to creative arts interventions. Here-and-now approaches to enhancing interpersonal awareness.

Week 8: Treatment planning and the use of creative activities. Continued discussion of how to integrate art projects to meet therapeutic goals with different populations and client needs.

Week 9:  Trauma and non-verbal treatment. Review of current evidence-based trauma treatment approaches in psychotherapy. Understanding the non-verbal aspects of a traumatic event. Case examples of sexual abuse (child and adult survivors) and family violence treatment using the arts.

Week 10: Trauma and arts intervention continued.

Week 11: Advanced Clinical Issues. Managing countertransference responses to disturbing artwork. Working with challenging populations. Topics selected by students.

Week 12: Issues of Termination. Creating transitional objects. Take it or leave it? Understanding the meaning of artwork left behind?

The learning objectives of the course as required by the NYS Office of Professions available upon request.


Price: $850.00
Friday, October 6 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
No meeting on 11/24 or 12/22. Last class is Jan 5, 2024.
"I enjoyed learning how to speak about a person's art work, and how to explore without making assumptions. That was a very useful practice— the ongoing appreciation of the work of the patient and curious inquiry. [Drena] was very attentive to questions and responsive and I enjoyed [her] sense of humor."

—LCSW participant from February 2022 course