Saturday, 2 May 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Prairie Institute of Expressive Arts Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

Art Therapy vs Expressive Arts Therapy: What is the difference?
Art and Expressive Arts are two different professions with two different registering bodies.  Art therapists are trained to utilize primarily visual arts in their therapeutic work with clients.
Expressive arts therapists are trained to utilize a variety of modalities including visual art, creative writing/storytelling, music, drama, and dance/movement.

What is intermodal expressive arts therapy?
Intermodal expressive arts is using a combination of these modalities within one session (i.e. writing a story inspired from their painted picture, then drumming while sharing the story).  PIEAT’s training is grounded in the intermodal use of expressive arts.

How do I become an art therapist?
To train to be an art therapist in Canada, you can practice with a two year art therapy diploma from a recognized school or with a master’s degree in a counselling program (i.e. social work, psychology) along with an advanced diploma in art therapy.  There are various schools across Canada that offers these programs (see CATA website for schools).

I have a degree in _____, and I want to be an art or expressive arts therapist, what do I do?
First, if you are truly interested in working in the role of therapist, having a master’s degree in social work, psychology, or counselling followed by specialized training in art or expressive arts training can possibly open more doors than having only a diploma without a master’s degree.

Second, be clear about the two professions and where you want to put your time, energy, and money.  Do some research on the various professional options.  Be aware of the various levels of programs offered in Canada, the amount of money for each, and whether or not they will get you where you want to be professionally.  

In Alberta, there are some specific art therapy positions in various agencies and within the government, though they are limited.   

I don’t have a master’s degree in a related field, and I am not interested in pursuing one, but I am interested in art or expressive arts.  What are my options?
If interested in art therapy, you could do a two year diploma in a recognized school.  If you are interested in expressive arts, you might consider a program (such as PIEAT) that provides specialized training in expressive arts.  Do note, that if you do not have a master’s degree, it is not possible to practice as an expressive arts therapist.  It is possible to consider the role of an Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator (see below under Registering Bodies).

What does PIEAT offer?

Here at PIEAT, we offer training in expressive arts only.  Our training programs are for both therapists/counsellors and consultant/educators/facilitators (i.e. artists, nurses, physicians, teachers, chaplains, etc).

PIEAT offers a Level 1 program that provides students with 75 hours of training in the foundations of expressive arts.  That is, experiencing the various modalities through weekend or immersion trainings.  

The Level 2 training program is for professionals who are interested in furthering their studies in expressive arts to help formulate their professional expressive arts identity, be it as a therapist or consultant/educator.  While some of the training is done jointly, in Level 2 there is specialized training in both streams as therapists and consultant/educators.  

How much work is there in between the weekend trainings in Level 1?
The training was designed with the working professional in mind.  There are assigned readings, along with other requirements between sessions, however, the amount of work is very doable.  

The immersion program requires pre-immersion preparation, including readings, and for the second immersion, teaching and facilitation preparation.  There are weekly requirements between the immersions, but very reasonable.  Please contact PIEAT for the specifics of program requirements.

Do I have to go to Calgary, or can I do this on-line?
We do not offer on-line training.  All training is done on-site in Calgary.

How long do I have to be in Calgary for the Level 1 & 2?
Level 1 training is offered in two formats.  There is a January to June training that requires students to attend one weekend intensive per month for 6 months.  The training is Saturday/Sunday from 10:00 - 5:00.  The first weekend training has an additional 3 hours of training, when students and trainers meet on the Friday night from 6:00 - 9:00.

The other format for Level 1 is the April - September immersion.  This format requires students to attend one week of training in April and one week in September.  There are other requirements that are completed between sessions on your own.

Level 2 is offered in Calgary as a summer intensive over the last 2 weeks of July.  The training is offered in 4 day intervals with one day off in between (4 days training, 1 day off, 4 days training, 1 day off, 4 days training).  

For current dates, see Blog under Current Training Dates.

What is the location of the trainings in Calgary?
There are various locations for the different modules of training and the locations vary depending on group size.  Please contact PIEAT for current locations.

Where do I stay in Calgary?
Lodging is the responsibility of the student.  Some students have used to locate a place to stay.

What can I do with this expressive arts training?
While the field of expressive arts is relatively young, there is a growing interest in the field of creative arts for healing.  Students who take this program use their training in a variety of ways.  Therapists integrate the use of the expressive arts in their clinical settings (private practice, hospitals, residential programs) in a variety of ways, including work with individuals, families, and groups.  For therapists, specialized training in expressive arts offers their clients additional effective interventions to deal with a variety of issues.

Consultant/Educators go on to use their training to deepen and/or expand their work, be it with groups, individuals, and/or families.  For example, they find ways to integrate the arts into their already existing profession (i.e. coaches, mental health nurses who may use the arts in therapeutic groups for youth, teachers finding creative ways to teach their curriculum, or spiritual directors/pastoral workers using the arts in retreats).  

What is the advantage of taking Level 2?
Level 2 training offers an additional 75 hours of training that may be used towards registration with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA).  It also offers students the experience of deepening their understanding of the theory of intermodal expressive arts and the experiential practice of using expressive arts as a therapist or as an educator/consultant.  Students also receive 7 hours of group supervision as part of the program.  

I already have training in expressive arts, can I take Level 2?
Each application will be evaluated individually to determine suitability for Level 2.  Typically, Level 1 is a prerequisite for Level 2 training.  However, if the applicant can show that they have had at least 75 hours of other expressive arts training, they may be considered for Level 2.  It is up to the applicant to provide documentation of previous training.  

What are the registering bodies?
Art therapists, who have the required training and supervision hours can apply to register with the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA).  

Expressive arts therapists, who meet the training and supervision requirements can apply to become registered through the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA).  

What kind of registration is there in the field of expressive arts?
IEATA offers registration for two streams of professionals (see their website,  for a more thorough description on their requirements to register in either stream).

Registered Expressive Arts Therapists (REAT)
Registration as a REAT is for professional therapists with at least a master’s degree or PhD and specialized training in expressive arts, and post-education supervision.

Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educators (REACE)
Registration as a REACE is for people who may or may not have a degree, but are using the arts in their work, and have specialized training in expressive arts.

Can I use the title Expressive Arts Therapist?
Although the title is not protected at this time, if you do not have a master’s degree in counselling with specialized training in expressive arts therapy, this is not the title to use.  This would be a title for those who meet the requirements for REAT (see above or go to IEATA website).

If you have some other professional background, and/or training in expressive arts you may consider the title Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator (see IEATA website).

For further information, please contact, Carmen Richardson at
or call (403) 245-5553 ext 15