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About the ART therapies
- Submitted by

We hear; Art Therapy,
Expressive Arts Therapy,
Creative Arts Therapies............

Before what is now accepted nationally and internationally as Expressive Art Therapy (EXA), an intermodal, interdisciplinary practice, there were practicing art specialists. These specialists were; dance therapists, drama therapist, music therapist, and art therapists and had been working in hospitals, psych wards, orphanages, and in the streets for a very long time. They were and are specialist who from time to time may use another art modality in their work, but the focus or perspective is through their specialty. This is akin to Expressive Arts Therapy, in that it is very deep work, but unlike Expressive Arts Therapy, because expressive arts therapists are trained to work with all the modalities without focus on one, as the modality must be specific to the clients needs. Paolo Knill, one of the founders in the field, has called it, Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy.
Around 1976 Expressive Art Therapy emerged out of the various art therapies most notably dance and drama therapy, as a school of thought in the field of human concern. Now, 30 years later there are 5 expressive arts graduate schools in North America, and expressive arts graduate schools in Europe, Canada, and Israel offering masters and PhDs in Expressive Arts Therapy. The masters programs are rigorous,. At the California Institute of Integral Studies, the curriculum includes all of the requirements for a masters degree in counseling psychology, woven in with the principles, theories, philosophy and practice of Expressive Arts therapy. It is a 3 year program.
Expressive arts therapist work with effective reality, (what is acting upon us or what we are acting upon), literal reality,( our daily lives), and imaginal reality,( our dreams, daydreams, art, and fantasies). In an intermodal approach, the EXA therapists have the ability to weave their theoretical stance, whatever it is, and clinical interventions with an art modality that is most suitable for the client in the moment. This comes out of an understanding of such concepts as crystallization theory, polyaesthetics, communication modalities, and intermodal theory. These philosophical and theoretical constructs are part of the foundation for any expressive art therapists approach.

MFTs have the B.B.S. to answere to. Besides the B.B.S., The art therapies-- dance, drama, music, and art-- have registries that oversee competencies and ethical practices of the practitioners. Likewise expressive arts therapists have an organization to oversees the same. It is called IEATA, International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. IEATA oversees its members as they practice, train, or offer continueing education to assure the competancy of the therapist in expressive arts.
A Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, REAT, has a masters degree or a Ph.D. in Expressive Arts Therapy Counseling Psychology, or the equivalency in a Certificate Expressive Arts Therapy Program, and must demonstrate an ongoing arts practice and involvement. In fact one is not accepted into expressive arts graduate school if they cannot demonstrate their ongoing work as an artist. A REAT has 2000 clinical hours, 100 hours of expressive arts supervision, 100 hours of personal Expressive arts therapy, 50 hours of coursework in an art medium, and demonstrates a long list of competencies.
To become an expressive arts therapist is a long journey. To become a registered expressive arts therapist is even longer. Since graduating in 2002, after the grueling experience and expense of getting my MFT liscence, I am still 20 exa therapy hours away from completing the process for REAT.. So it goes. Always something to look forward to.
You can go to the REAT and IEATA website for more information about expressive arts therapists.

Caren Wise MA Expressive Arts Therapy
MFT #50217


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