The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Art Therapy program at SVA is interdisciplinary in approach, integrating the experiential components of art therapy practice within a comprehensive framework of academic theory and clinical application. Students learn to adapt the creative process to the specific therapeutic needs of the individual, population and setting, with a consideration of how socio-political and cultural issues impact treatment. SVA believes in active engagement with the community utilizing the diverse, multi-dimensional, artistic, and innovative atmosphere of NYC and beyond to enhance training.
Degree candidates must successfully complete 60 credits, including all required courses, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. A residency of two academic years is required. In exceptional instances, students may be allowed to transfer up to 15 credits from other accredited graduate programs. Decisions concerning transfer of credit and course exemptions are made by the committee on graduate admissions.
Students are trained in the psychodynamic roots of the art therapy profession along with contemporary theories of human development, creativity, and related fields. Students analyze changes in physical, cognitive, artistic and social-emotional development across the lifespan. Courses work in tandem with two years of internship and special projects in clinical, academic, medical and community settings. First year coursework involves training in fundamental theories, methods and evidence-based art therapy research. This includes an in-depth academic and experiential exploration of the therapeutic use of art materials with specific populations. The second year focuses on specialization, professional development and practical application. Students develop a clinically oriented thesis, which includes designing and conducting research that follows ethical guidelines. In addition, students choose from two specialization tracks: Addictionology or Trauma.
Tracks: Addictionology and Trauma
In the second year of study, students choose between two areas of specialization. Track selection informs the second year internship placement and is the focus of thesis work.
The Addictionology track explores neurobiology and its role in substance use and other addictive behaviors, the influence of attachment and trauma on capacities for self-regulation, and consequent reliance on chemical assistance and non-drug dependencies. Students will understand the role of art therapy in promoting enhanced capacities for integration and communication among neural systems and networks, allowing for optimal self-regulation and overall functioning.
The Trauma track explores the nature and effects of interactions between the environment and physiology of the individual. The impacts of profound, event-related or shock trauma, as well as developmental, attachment-based, and strain trauma is examined throughout the life cycle. Students will understand the role of art therapy in promoting a sense of efficacy and mastery that offsets the learned helplessness acquired during traumatic experience, and reintroducing clients to experiences of pleasure and play in a safe and manageable way.
The internship, a core component of SVA student training, is integrated into all academic coursework from the first semester of study, so that theory is consistently connected to practice. Students are required to complete an intensive 960 hours of on-site clinical work at two separate and diverse year long internships where they gain in-depth art therapy experience and professional training under the supervision of a licensed art therapist.
Affiliations with a wide range of prominent institutions and non-traditional sites in and around NYC ensure students are exposed to innovative advancements and current trends in art therapy, the fine art world and related fields. Through on-going individual consultation with a full-time internship coordinator, students obtain internships that correspond to their experience and SVA training standards while developing skills specific to seeking employment as an art therapist. Second year internships are based on
track selection and are the focus of thesis work so that didactic material is reinforced by work in the field. Students are expected to take an active role on-site and in supervision, developing leadership, advocacy and critical thinking skills. A fundamental part of internship training is considering the impact of socio-political issues, culture and power structures on treatment, as well as upholding the standards and ethical guidelines of the American Art Therapy Association, Art Therapy Credentials Board, and the New York State Education Department Office of Professions.