Information Sessions

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Information Session: MA in Art Therapy

Clinic FAQs

Q: What is the GWATC?

A: The GWATC provides state-of-the-art treatment in Art Therapy to members of the GW community and community at large, with a focus on healing through art and the expressive therapies. The center is a training facility for graduate art therapy students under the supervision of licensed and board certified therapists. The center also provides opportunities for faculty and student-led art therapy research.


Q: What is art therapy?

A: As defined by the American Art Therapy Association (, art therapy is “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being” (AATA, 2013).


Q: Do I need skills in art in order to attend sessions?

A: Art therapy does not require talent in art, only a willingness to create.


Q: What are the benefits of art therapy?

A: Art therapy services can be beneficial to a wide variety of clients with various clinical needs and goals. Clients from diverse backgrounds, of different cultures, ages and experiences can be served. Art therapy is often a way to express feelings where words are not as readily available. Art can be a window into the deeper, unconscious thoughts and feelings and can help with self- awareness. Also art therapy can build self-esteem, creative problem solving, and resiliency.


Q. What happens in an art therapy session and how is it different from verbal therapy?

Art therapy sessions are similar to verbal therapy but with the addition of art making and processing of the art making experience with the art therapist. Art therapy provides a unique opportunity to express feelings without reliance on words. A typical art therapy session is 45 to 50 minutes in length, although occasionally we may feel extended sessions are helpful.  Depending on the needs and goals of the individual client, the art therapist may provide direction with the art making process, or the client may engage in more spontaneous, expressive work. Once the art piece is complete, the art therapist and client work together to explore the feelings that might arise or the particular meaning the artwork might hold for the client.


Q: What populations does the GWATC serve?

A: The GWATC provides Art Therapy services to the community and our clients come from Virginia, DC and Maryland. We work with children, adolescents and adults. Goals for art therapy might include: ameliorating symptoms of depression or anxiety, dealing with illness, trauma, and loss, alleviating job/school related stress, improving interpersonal relationships, building self-awareness and self-esteem, enhancing cognitive abilities, and/or fostering creativity and personal growth.


Q. When is Art Therapy at the GWATC not recommended?

A client who is currently abusing substances that interfere with daily functioning, or who is actively suicidal or homicidal, or who has a serious mental illness requiring intensive treatment and medical management may not be appropriate for services at the GWATC. We are also not an appropriate provider for those who are involved in legal issues or court referred.

In some cases we will work with clients who have recently been discharged from a more intensive therapeutic setting (hospital or day center) and who is also in treatment with another outside primary therapist. 


Q What if I am not deemed eligible for art therapy at the GWATC?

If a person is deemed ineligible for art therapy services at GWATC, we can provide referral to other providers and agencies. Also, if a current client becomes suicidal or it becomes evident that the individual being seen in the clinic requires a higher level of treatment, the GWATC may be required to terminate services and/or refer that person to a more appropriate level of care.


Q: How do I schedule an intake session?

A: Contact the GWATC at 703-548-1358 or email [email protected] to arrange an initial phone or in person screening. In the initial screening, you will meet with the intern(s) and/ or director to review your history and reasons for pursuing art therapy. At this meeting we will determine if art therapy is a good fit. There is no cost for the intake session.


Q. What do I bring to the intake session?

A. You will be asked to fill out paperwork that will aid us in our working together, Intake Form. You may be asked to sign a release form so that we can collaborate with others who you are working with. If there are any pertinent records such as psychological or educational evaluation you would like us to see, you can bring these in and we can make copies.


Q: How much does it cost to attend sessions at the GWATC?

A: We have a sliding fee scale to keep our services affordable. Fees start as low as $5 and go to $75 depending on income and other circumstances. At intake, we will ask you to let us know what you feel you are reasonably able to pay. Our fees allow us to provide a range of quality art materials. We are a fee for service clinic, meaning that you are responsible for payment in full at each session. Because we do not officially diagnose clients, we are unable to provide you with a statement or bill for your sessions, and we do not work with any insurance companies. Payment can be made by cash or check made out to The George Washington University.


Q: Who will I meet when I come to the GWATC?

A: Initial intake sessions are conducted by the GWATC student interns. Our sessions are conducted by student therapists who are pursuing a Masters Degree in Art Therapy at The George Washington University. These students have completed academic courses preparing them for their work with you, and they have met rigorous academic and clinical standards before they are eligible to work in the Art Therapy Clinic. They are supervised by licensed mental health professionals/ counselors and/ or board certified art therapists. 


Q: Why are all sessions video and audio recorded?

A: Because a major emphasis of the center is in providing education and training to the art therapy students, all sessions will be video and audio taped and reviewed by the student therapist(s) and his/her supervisor in a confidential classroom setting within the University. We believe this level of accountability through closely monitored supervision will benefit both the client and the student therapist in providing the best treatment possible. All clients will be informed of this upon their initial contact and will not begin treatment in the center without agreeing to and signing the forms regarding audio/video taping. Confidentiality regarding taping and viewing tapes will be strictly maintained according to the AATA and VA Board of Counseling code of ethics.


Q: Does the GWATC offer group art therapy?

A: The GWATC primarily offers individual art therapy, but we also can provide group art therapy and couples/family art therapy. At times we have offered in-house Art Therapy workshops for the community, such as at holiday times when people are dealing with stressors. Art Therapy group sessions are often held in the spring semester when there is client interest. Some of recent group art therapy sessions have included: Dealing with Bullying, Grief and Loss Group for Children, Tweens Maker Group, Creative Community Group for Adults, Building Self- Esteem, Adult Fiber Arts and Narrative Textile Group. Please contact the GWATC if you are interested (Link?).


Q: How often can I attend sessions at the GWATC?

A: The GWATC offers weekly individual art therapy sessions. These sessions are typically 45-50 minutes in length, but may be as long as 90 minutes if clinically indicated. The length of sessions will depend on you and your therapist. Therapy is most effective when it is consistent. Please consider your availability and commitment to the agreed upon weekly appointment time.


Q: How long can I attend sessions at the GWATC?

A: GWATC works on an academic calendar. Students begin seeing clients in the clinic in the fall (September) and end in early May. Some students will be able to continue providing sessions in the summer months (May-July) but this cannot be guaranteed. The clinic does take breaks during the year including a 3-week Winter break (usually mid-December to mid-January), a Spring break (usually in March) and a break during the month of August.


Q. What if I need to cancel a session?

A. Please contact your student therapist and/or leave a message on our Clinic Line 703-548-1358 with the name of your therapist and your message about cancellation. We require 24 hours’ notice for cancellation, otherwise you will be expected to pay (in full) for your missed session.


Q: Saying goodbye: What if I decide the GWATC isn’t a good fit for me?

A: We try to make the experience at the clinic positive one, but we realize that art therapy is not for everyone and sometimes a therapist and client are not a good fit. We encourage being as open as possible with your therapist and discussing any concerns, discomfort or problems as they arise. This can make all the difference between a “bad” and a “good” ending.

Whether it is determined it is time to end therapy due to schedule changes or clinical or personality issues, we ask that you spend at least 1-2 sessions discussing this with your art therapist. Sometimes the discussion can help things resolve, or facilitate a good way to move forward.

Saying goodbye (termination) is an important aspect of the therapeutic relationship and often helps both client and therapist wrap up the work that has been done. In order for any therapy to be effective, client and therapist are encouraged to be honest, open and forward thinking.