Information Sessions

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Information Session: MA in Art Therapy

Students in the clinic

Opportunities at the GWATC for Students in the Art Therapy Program

The GW Art Therapy Clinic was established in 2008 as a response to the newly developing research in trauma and neuroscience that recognizes that certain executive functioning centers of the brain are impaired when recalling traumatic memory. Research demonstrates that trauma is stored implicitly in visual and sensory modes, and does not follow an explicit linear, or verbal path. It follows that art therapy can be a treatment of choice for trauma disorders as it does not rely on explicit memory or verbalization, but allows direct access to emotion that can be expressed through a creative arts process. Creative expression through art communicates on multiple levels, often circumventing the defensiveness and restriction found in verbal therapy.

Our art therapy program is unique in that for over 10 years it has developed a specific “trauma track” where students study the latest trauma research and literature in a yearlong trauma and art therapy course, and apply that knowledge in their individual and group sessions in the art therapy clinic. Our clinic is known throughout the community for its trauma informed art therapy services, but students practicing in the clinic can work with a variety of clients with different clinical concerns. Working in the Art Therapy Clinic will prepare students extremely well for further clinical work in a variety of settings, including private practice.

The clinic is composed of 3 large rooms equipped with a wide variety of art supplies, sand tray equipment and other therapeutic resources. All sessions are digitally recorded providing students the opportunity to review and reflect on their work and to receive moment-by-moment supervision on cases. Working with a client in the clinic over the course of an academic year, students will hone both their clinical and case management skills.

Our students regularly cite the experience or working in the clinic as one of the major advantages of our program and as a major factor in their development of an art therapist identity. Here is what some students have said about working in the clinic:

"I knew this program would provide state of the art learning opportunities, however I never imagined the depth and richness of experience that I would encounter through working in the Clinic. Exposure to diverse populations allowed me to put into practice the different theoretical approaches and skills taught in our classes. I feel incredibly grateful to have had guidance from world-class professors that also are leaders in the field of Art Therapy and research. I feel that my work in the Clinic has expedited the development of my Art Therapist identity while also preparing me for post-graduate employment."


 “The GWATC significantly contributed to my growth as an art therapist. Through utilization of the recording system, case consultation, and administrative duties, I honed in on my voice and role as an art therapist. Over the span of the past year, I grew in confidence and was able to see my own personal growth as well as the growth of my clients.”


“The clinic experience was an invaluable part of my training. I honestly cannot imagine the art therapy program without it. I feel confident in my training and am thankful to have had the combination of the didactic [learning] with the ability to practice [skills]. I know that the skills I gained at the clinic will be a strong foundation to my career as an art therapist.”