Vancouver Art Therapy Institute (VATI) 603

Art Therapy Techniques (Revision 1)

VATI 603 Course Image

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 Techniques course combines a practical and theoretical focus to develop a framework from which to approach arts based language and the practice of art therapy. Students are expected to be familiar with a range of basic counselling skills and available to explore the use of those within the context of art therapy. The course will introduce aspects of the art therapy alliance that support the creative and experiential process. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and developing skillful means that allow for successful integration of counselling strategies in art therapy practice.

Students will learn art therapy techniques and the relationship to therapeutic skills. Through the readings, in-class discussions, and experiential exercises, the art therapy environment, students will explore the essential practical and symbolic elements that characterize art therapy. Art therapy techniques also includes a critical examination of the role of the art therapist and a discussion of the essential interpersonal skills used in the art therapy environment. This course will offer students an opportunity to explore other essential therapeutic skills such as establishing and maintaining therapeutic presence and tracking the signs of the therapeutic experience in relationship to the art.

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:

  • Establish therapeutic alliance within art therapy practice.
  • Critically evaluate the role of art therapist in both group and individual work.
  • Critically evaluate the role of the art and creative process in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Integrate basic counselling skills within an art therapy practice.
  • Create a collaborative and safe environment for personal expression.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how basic art materials effect personal expression.

At the end of the second summer students will also be able to:

  • Demonstrate proficiency and mastery in the practice of a variety of art therapy techniques.
  • Articulate effectively what is required to create a successful art therapy environment.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the skills required to assist clients’ use of art for self-expression.
  • Critically evaluate, synthesize, and integrate theoretical constructs in counselling practice with art therapy practice.
  • Synthesize and critically evaluate the role of directive and non-directive models in art therapy practice.
  • Articulate a personal framework for understanding and processing arts-based language.


FIRST VATI Residency

  • Conceptualizing the work of the art therapist
  • Defining an arts-based perspective in art therapy
  • Cultivating an arts-based response to client narratives
  • Developing a theory of creativity in art therapy
  • Practice and practical application of theory of creativity
  • Moving towards a definition of art therapy
  • Overview of theories and techniques of art therapy


  • Understanding personal arts-based techniques
  • Communicating arts-based techniques to professionals
  • Applied understanding of arts-based techniques in studio-based art therapy

Course Evaluation

To receive credit for VATI 603, students must attend both summer residencies and submit all of the course assignments. The passing grade for the course is 70%. The assessment structure for VATI 603: Art Therapy Techniques 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 50%
Assignment 1: Critical Reflection and Questions from the Readings
Pre-VATI Residency Reading Assignment
Assignment 2: Personal Reflection In-Class Presentation (second residency) 45%
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.