Expressive Arts Therapy (EXA) is an integrative/intermodal, multi-modality arts approach that is used with people of all ages and backgrounds. We offer a dynamic, comprehensive, hands-on approach that prepares clinicians to integrate Expressive Arts Therapy into various practice settings.

Starting with the 2023-24 cohort, NWCEAI is offering two options for the EXA Training Program. We offer the fully online program and a new hybrid option, which is taught mostly online but includes a component of in-person meetings. We are confident that you will receive a high quality education with effective cohort engagement through our signature style of creative and collaborative experiential learning, whichever option you choose. The next cohort for both options will begin in September 2023.

The availability of the Hybrid Program will be contingent on adequate enrollment. Please note: Program tuition does not include the costs associated with attending the in-person retreats. Students are responsible for planning travel to/from the site and funding the associated costs.

*Please Note: You must be a licensed clinician or associate, or currently enrolled in a graduate program in counseling, counseling psychology, social work or equivalent, in order to apply for the Training Program.

If I complete your program, will I be a Certified or Registered Expressive Arts Therapist?
Not quite. After successful completion of this program, you will receive a certificate of completion which allows you to claim that you use expressive arts therapy as a therapeutic approach and have received extensive training and a certificate from NWCEAI.

The certificate does not allow you to refer to yourself, or advertise yourself, as a Registered or Certified Expressive Arts Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist, Registered Art Therapist, or any other Creative Arts Therapy discipline with a credential, or use the suffixes: REAT, ATR, DMT, DTR, etc. More details are in the FAQs.

Check back here in the Spring for the Training Program Application

The application process requires the following documents: (you will be required to upload the following documents in the online application system):

Resume or CV, copy of your professional license and/or proof of graduate level student status, the names of two professional references, scholarship application, if relevant, and a 3-page personal essay that includes responses to the following:

    1. What motivates you to apply to this program at this time in your career?
    2. What is it about Expressive Arts, in lieu of a different creative arts modality, I.e., Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, etc. that you are drawn to?
    3. What is your learning style? How do you take in, understand, express, and remember new information? Please provide an example of a satisfying learning experience.
    4. What is your experience in group process and experiential learning?
    5. What are your expectations of this program—what do you hope to gain and what do you have to offer?
    6. Do you have any background in the arts or creative practice? Please elaborate.
    7. Do you feel ready to make the required time commitment and financial investment? Please explain.
    8. If you are working in an agency, organization, and/or internship site, would you be able to get the support of your supervisor to integrate expressive arts modalities into your therapeutic repertoire?
    9. Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

 Download the following documents containing program details:

Missed the live InfoSession webinar?

Watch it below! Program Director, Dr. Sibel Golden, PhD, LMHC, REAT,  discusses the fundamentals and details of the Training Program.  Click to go to YouTube.

Hear from recent alumni about why the Training Program may be a great fit for you! 

Meet some of our wonderful faculty and hear about their joy and practice of the Expressive Arts!

Read our FAQs about the Training Program, but feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.

About the EXA Professional Training Program:
Hybrid Option

The availability of the Hybrid Program will be contingent on adequate enrollment. Please note: Program tuition does not include the costs associated with attending the in-person retreats. Students are responsible for planning travel to/from the site and funding the associated costs.

Program Breakdown:

  • Approximately 100 hours of class time and mentoring
  • Approximately 50 hours of home practice & online participation
  • Individual Creative Practice (documentation of 50 hours are required for the REAT)
  • 200 hours practicum with (documentation requirement for REAT, possibility of your worksite being eligible)

Program Includes:

  • Foundational Approaches of Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Applications of Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Individual Expressive Arts Therapy Process
  • Group Expressive Arts Therapy Process and Dynamics
  • Ethics and Best Practice
  • Independent Creative Practice
  • Monthly Small Group Mentoring/Consult
  • Exceptional Core Guest Faculty
  • Online Learning Platform
  • Learning resources including articles, book chapters, videos, and program slides
  • Access to Expressive Media Film Library
  • 25% discount off our public workshops, for the duration of the program  (Sept.-June)
  • 30 CEs upon completion of the program.*

Each module includes a three-pronged learning process:

1. Understanding + Knowledge: Learning through readings, discussion, and presentation
2. Experiential/Hands-On Learning: Learning through class experientials, practicum, individual creative practice
3. Application: Applying learning to work environments + self of the expressive arts therapist

Modules: A General Overview Sample

1. Foundations

A.   Person-Centered Approach
B.   Attunement & Presence
C.   Becoming the Witness in EXA
D.   Creative Process
E.   Ethics & Best Practice

2. Visual Media Orientation

A.    Becoming comfortable and fluent with materials
B.    Choosing materials wisely

3. Expressive Arts Foundational Practice

A.    Creating Psychological Safety & Creative Freedom
B.    Working with Process and Product
C.    Understanding the Integrative Approach
D.    Using the Person-Centered Approach
E.    Working with Symbols and Metaphors

4. Applications of Expressive Arts Therapy (additions and substitutions may occur based on group and faculty needs)

A. Visual Arts

a) Drawing and Painting
b) Collage and Mixed Media
c) 3-D assemblage, Clay, Mask-making
d) Photography
e) Integrating the Visual Arts for intermodal practice

B. Expressive Writing

a) Elements
b) Techniques
c) Poetry
d) Creative & Visual Journal Writing
e) Integrating Writing for intermodal practice

C. Creative Movement

a) Somatic Awareness
b) Dancing Mindfulness
c) Authentic Movement
d) Integrating Movement for intermodal practice

D. Drama Therapy

a) Enactment and Drama Techniques
b) Storytelling
c) Improvisation Techniques
d) Integrating Drama for intermodal practice

E. Sound, Music, and Voice in Therapy

a) Benefits of and techniques for using sound and music in the counseling process
b) Using the Voice
c) Integrating Sound, Music, and Voice Approaches for intermodal practice

F. Sand Tray

a) Background and History
b) Expressive Arts Approach
c) Materials & building a collection


Small group mentor meetings will be scheduled monthly on Thursdays, time/dates TBD.

 Home Practice:

  • Assigned Readings and Videos
  • Reading Pods
  • Online participation
  • Peer Practice
  • Optional Affinity Groups
  • Creative Practice (50 hours are necessary for REAT, documented)


200 hours of individual or group work using the expressive arts in practice. Peer practice and practice in class count toward the total hours.

Program Schedule:

The Hybrid Program will begin with an online orientation in September. The entire Cohort will meet in person in October and in June for weekend retreats, then will meet one Saturday per month (either online or in-person, TBD) for 7 consecutive months.  Students will engage in large and small-group experiential learning at these times. In addition, students will meet in their mentor group and peer practice group, online, each once per month at times to be determined.

Independent learning through creative practice, learning platform engagement, and essential readings are also a core part of the program. The end of the program culminates at our retreat in June, including the graduation celebration. For a more detailed Program Schedule, please download the Hybrid Program Overview document, linked above.

Students who successfully complete the program are awarded a Certificate from NWCEAI.

*Northwest Creative & Expressive Arts Institute is a NBCC Approved Continuing Education Provider ™, ACEP No. 7014.

Financial investment

Tuition cost is $5,843.00 for the 2023-24 cohortThis includes 10 hours per month for a total of 10 months (September 2023-June 2024) of class time. The remaining 50 hours of training will consist of home assignments and online participation. Art supplies and books are not included in tuition. Program tuition does not include the costs associated with attending the in-person retreats. Students are responsible for planning travel to/from the site and funding the associated costs.

A 5% discount is available for payment in full by September 15, 2023.  Scholarship assistance is available with application. 

Path to Becoming a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist: Year 2+ at NWCEAI

There is also the option to continue the program into a 2nd year+ to complete requirements for Registration with the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. This is a recognized international credential.

  • 1000 hours internship/work experience, 100 hours group supervision or 50 hours individual supervision, or combination of the two.
  • Every effort is made to use your worksite to complete your hours, and you have up to 48 months to complete this requirement.
  • NWCEAI provides Group Supervision (3-6 supervisees/2-hour sessions) at a cost of $100 per session.
  • Recommendations for Individual Supervisors are available.
  • For more information about the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association REAT Requirements, please visit IEATA

Have questions?  Please reach out!