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Course Title

Art Therapy Foundations: Moving from Theory to Practice

previously named:

Supporting SEL Through Art Therapy: Strategies For Artist and Non-Artists Alike

Course Number

ISCA 807

Course Overview

Children and teenagers have many ways of expressing themselves. Oftentimes, we lose the opportunity to fully understand them if we only provide an outlet for verbal expression.

As counselors, it is part of our responsibility to help students express themselves in healthy ways, sublimate negative emotions, and develop positive coping skills. For many of our students, the creative process through play and artmaking is a natural form of communication. Even if we ourselves are not comfortable making art, we can harness the power of creative practice as a tool to help our kids flourish.

The major aim of this interactive course is to introduce art therapy techniques, in an ethical and effective way, to counselors who may not be familiar or comfortable with the creative process. These skills benefit all students, but can be particularly helpful for young students, students with language or developmental difficulties, or students who are uncomfortable sharing verbally. By learning through doing, this experiential course will engage participants in lectures and art based activities. Topics covered will include the neurological and fundamental benefits of artmaking, how to build a safe space for artmaking, questions to facilitate conversations while making art, tips on when to use what materials and directives for which students, and how to use art as an assessment tool to track student development, child protection, and overall mental health.

Social/Emotional Domain

Standard A: Students will demonstrate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills to develop and maintain positive relationships with self and others.

Standard B: Students will make decisions, solve problems, set goals, and take necessary action to achieve personal goals.

Global Perspective & Identity Development Domain

Standard A: Students will demonstrate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills needed in order to be culturally competent global citizens.

Standard B: Students will examine the complexity of identity development and the impact identity has on relationships with others.

Standard C: Students will advocate for a world where all identities are affirmed and validated

Standard D: Students will demonstrate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills to manage transition effectively

Academic Domain

Standard A: Students will demonstrate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills that contribute to effective learning in school and throughout life

ASCA Ethical Standards:

A. 1. Supporting Student Development

School counselors: Provide culturally responsive counseling to students in a brief context and support students and families/guardians in obtaining outside services if students need long-term clinical/mental health counseling.

Ethical Standards for School Counselors

A. 7. Group Work School counselors:

Offer culturally sustaining small-group counseling services based on individual student, school and community needs; student data; a referral process; and/or other relevant data.

ASCA Professional Competencies:

B-PF 1.Apply developmental, learning, counseling and education theories

a. Use human development theories to have an impact on developmental issues affecting student success

c. Use established and emerging evidence-based counseling theories and techniques that are effective in a school setting to promote academic, career and social/emotional development, including but not limited to rational emotive behavior therapy, reality therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, Adlerian, solution-focused brief counseling, person-centered counseling and family systems

d. Use counseling theories and techniques in individual, small-group, classroom and large-group settings to promote academic, career and social/emotional development

Intended Audience

This course is intended for all counselors working with students from Pre K-12 in the area of social emotional counseling.

Special benefit will come for counselors that work with:

  • Students that have difficulty expressing themselves (ELL, special needs, otherwise speech delayed)
  • Programs with a focus on mental health
  • Both non-artists and artists alike

Essential Questions

How will I be able to use the workshop contents in my own school or organizational setting?



Participants will have knowledge about:

Participants will be able to:

  • Participants will discover the indepth basics of art therapy, and how to utilize it with students.

Additionally covering:

  • The history, benefits and best practices of art therapy
  • Understanding how to integrate art therapy activities into your counseling sessions
  • Building clinician confidence in artmaking with students
  • Understanding and communicating the benefits of art therapy

  • Utilize art based assessments to assess student development and mental health status
  • Develop safe, ethical, evidence based, and meaningful art based activities for students differentiated by their needs
  • Mindfully discuss artwork, and ask questions to facilitate in depth conversations
  • Utilize art making to facilitate effective group work

About the Facilitator