The Drexel Creative Arts Therapy Program

Left as a comment, Lauren asks:

How competitive is it to get into the Creative arts therapy program at Drexel? To my knowledge, it seems like the most intensive art therapy graduate program. Can you describe your experience in the program?

Any type of information would be really helpful! Thanks.

Hi Lauren,

At this point, I’m not sure how many people apply to the Drexel CAT program vs. how many are accepted. I remember there was a group interview (with multiple potential students, the director and assistant director of the program), which was followed by an individual interview. I brought my portfolio with me, which I went over during my 1:1 interview. I also had strong grades and Miller Analogies Test scores, which helped to seal the deal, although I think there’s some leniency afforded to those who seem like a “good fit” in the program.

The Drexel art therapy program was intensive—5 days a week, full time classes and internships, plus lots of reading and writing to do at home. There was still time for fun, but it was a pretty big adjustment for everyone in the program.

My background in taking lots of psychology courses (and history courses, that have huge reading and writing assignments) during my undergrad was extremely beneficial. Many students who had a fine arts background, with very little experience in academia, seemed overwhelmed by the workload and expectations for writing quality. They all made it through, but many needed extra support to help with their writing skills.

The program begins by teaching the basics of psychodynamic theory at the same time as teaching about the basics of art therapy theory, which is rooted in psychodynamic theory. If you already have taken a course on psychodynamic theory before entering the Drexel program, you’ll find the first semester much easier.

Some students took issue to the emphasis on psychodynamic theory, which is very prominent during the first year (in your second year there are courses focusing on various other paradigms). During your internships, you may experience the use of only cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy, and wonder why you need to know about psychodynamics. In my experience, however, this solid foundation in psychodynamics has made me a better therapist—one that can move dynamically between the practical solutions provided by CBT (or DBT) and the unconscious world that emerges through the artwork. Feedback given to me by seasoned therapists and psychiatrists have emphasized that this ability is unusual in younger therapists, since younger therapists tend to have little or no training in the unconscious, defense mechanisms and personality structures.

I have no experience with any other art therapy program—I’m sure they all teach the “art of art therapy”—but I feel that Drexel gave me a solid academic foundation and prepared me to be a solid clinician.

Now, if only I could get a license to practice counseling in California! Then I’d be set ;)

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