Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (VATI) 601

Art Therapy Training (Revision 1)

VATI 601 Course Cover

Delivery Mode: Paced study; VATI summer institute

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Graduate Studies

Prerequisite: GCAP 671 (Only open to MC:AT students)

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines


The Art Therapy Training course is intended to offer students an opportunity to engage in a self-directed expressive art making process and situate their experience within the arts-based language of art therapy. Emphasis will be placed on the development of skills that support engagement with the creative process as it emerges and the thoughtful evocation of personal meaning. The course will introduce students to a training model that provides a framework for applied art therapy practice.

Art Therapy Training is one of the courses that provide the foundation of the summer intensive program and the training of art therapists. Each morning will begin with questions and discourse. Together, there will be an exploration of the themes and theories that are relevant to the practice of art therapy. Following this participatory period, we will begin the studio aspect of the training.

Students work in the studio setting using the art media. Immediately following this art making process, students are invited to work experientially with the instructor while group members respectfully observe. In this way, students are given the opportunity to work with and deepen their own understanding of the art therapy experience. The group experience also provides a range of approaches to themes, symbols, and personal expression. This aspect of the program provides a template that the student may draw upon in his or her own art therapy practice. The studio-based work is repeated at the end of each day following the same format. This provides an opportunity to integrate the theoretical and practical aspects of training using the language of the arts.

Instructional Methods

This course is offered over two separate summers during the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute's summer residency. In order to fully participate in this course, you need to attend both parts of the course, offered face-to-face in Vancouver, as well complete the required readings and assignments. The course is experiential and delivered in an intensive workshop format. Students will be involved in the studio on a daily basis doing their own art in an intensive workshop format.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the first summer residency, students will be able to:

  • Apply self-awareness and self-reflection skills to experiential work.
  • Critically reflect on personal beliefs, values, and judgments about human nature, health and wellness.
  • Actively engage in own creative process.
  • Demonstrate proficiency and comfortable use of a variety of art materials.
  • Articulate and reflect on personal meaning as related to personal imagery.
  • Experiment with a range of art approaches, themes, symbols and personal expression.
  • Manage interpersonal experiences professionally and ethically within a group art-making context.
  • Articulate a basic framework for applied art therapy practice.

By the end of the second summer residency, students will also be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of and engagement with personal creativity.
  • Critically evaluate own personal imagery and explanatory text.
  • Articulate and support a personal position about the creative processes and personal imagery.
  • Synthesize and evaluate own personal imagery in process language.
  • Critically evaluate and integrate the practical focus of self-directed study within the theoretical framework of the art therapy treatment process.
  • Articulate a comprehensive framework for applied art therapy practice.


The course is divided into several topics, structured as follows:

FIRST VATI Residency

  • How we conceive of the work we do
  • The role of art materials in art therapy
  • Creating the studio space
  • Role of therapist as artists
  • Self-reflection through the arts
  • Understanding the role of the therapist in the phases of creative process
  • Phenomenological approach to art therapy
  • Eclectic approaches to art therapy


  • The importance of art making in art therapy practice
  • Individual presentation - cultivating an artist/art therapist identity

Course Evaluation

To receive credit for VATI 601, students must attend both summer residencies and submit all of the course assignments. The passing grade for the course is B- (70%). The assessment structure for VATI 601: Art Therapy Training is based on the following course activities, with the percentage weighting of each activity as indicated. Your final grade for the course will be a composite mark based on your performance in these course activities.

Course Activity Weight
Participation In-class Discussions and Experiential Exercises 45%
Assignment 1: Critical Reflection and Questions from the Readings
Pre-VATI Residency Reading Assignment
Assignment 2: Personal Reflection In-Class Presentation (second residency) 50%
Total 100%

Other Information

Students with a disability, who require academic accommodation, need to register with the Access to Students with Disabilities Centre at Athabasca University. Notification of the need for academic accommodation must normally be provided to the program office no later than fourteen (14) days prior to the first day of class. It is the student's responsibility to register with the Disability Centre to request academic accommodation if required and to notify the instructor that such accommodation has been requested. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate individual student needs. However, because GCAP courses are paced, all student are required to participate weekly in the online discussion forums. There are also several courses where online exams are required.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice.

Opened in Revision 1, 2008.