CiiAT - Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy

Leading the Way in Virtual Art Therapy

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CiiAT - Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy
Art Psychotherapy Diploma

Program Description

The Art Psychotherapy Diploma Program is a dynamic, comprehensive, and academically rigorous program that nourishes creativity, encourages critical thinking, and welcomes unique perspectives. Experiential and embodied learning fosters competence, flexibility and professional skill development that enables art therapists to meet the complex demands of today’s clients, including their physical and virtual environments.

This diploma program prepares students for a career as a Professional Art Therapist and is recognized by the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) and the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). This program has been approved by the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

  • Title: Art Psychotherapist
  • Credential: Diploma (recognized by CRPO and CATA)
  • Tuition: $26,460 – $29,400
  • Delivery: Synchronous and Asynchronous with clinical placement (virtual or in-person)
  • Instructional Hours: 1200 hours
  • lHomework: varies week to week
  • Time Commitment: 20 hours/week over 30 months

Apply Here, and pay the Application Fee

The Art Psychotherapy Diploma Program helps students navigate the political and cultural challenges of our times by integrating traditional psychodynamic theories with contemporary theories in art therapy. We strive to be a community of equity and inclusion by welcoming students from many backgrounds and diverse cultures, creating space for all voices to be heard.

Courses are taught online in real time and are heavily interactive. Coursework is delivered through Moodle, our comprehensive learning management system.

Graduates of the program become leaders in the field in the areas of professional practice, research, and theoretical development. In order to address the rising need for telehealth practices, post-APD graduates are also familiar with art therapy practices in a variety of environments both physical and virtual.

Diploma classes start at three different times throughout the year: January, May, and September. We accept applications year-round.

When applying, you will be given the change to indicate which month you would like to begin classes. The admission process takes between 10-12 weeks from application to your first class. Therefore, we suggest that you submit your full application package at least 12 weeks prior to your desired starting month.

As requirements for becoming an art therapist may differ depending on locality, It is the individual’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the requirements of any regulatory bodies in their area of practice. By applying to the program, you confirm that you understand it is your responsibility to check with your provincial/state/country regulatory bodies for any additional requirements to becoming an art therapist, and not the responsibility of CiiAT.

You can apply, and pay the application fee, via the store link above.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify major relevant art therapy theories
  • Follow and implement the Canadian Art Therapy Association’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
  • Develop a thorough understanding of art media and its use in clinical art therapy
  • Recognize and summarize the symptoms experienced by people who have been diagnosed with a psychological disorder as defined in the current DSM with appropriate art therapy interventions

Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree in Social Sciences, the Arts or a related field (the undergraduate degree requirement may be met through a documented Equivalency Assessment);
  • 3 psychology courses such as Introduction to Psychology, Child and Adolescent Development, Human Development, Abnormal Psychology, Theories of Personality, Developmental Psychology, History of Psychology, and Counseling;
  • A minimum of two years of education completed in English;
  • A current resume and/or transcripts and certificates;
  • A portfolio of 10 pieces of artwork (including a variety of media, which may include sculpture, painting, or photography);
  • Successful completion of an oral intake interview

Tuition Fees

Post-BA $29,400 over a monthly payment period of 20 months ($1470 per month)

* Post-MA $26,460 over a monthly payment period of 18 months ($1470 per month)

* Pending transcript review

BIPOC Art Psychotherapy Diploma Scholarship

Up to $5,000 in tuition credit

The Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy is offering a scholarship to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) students in an effort to provide greater accessibility to our programs. We want to recognize the marginalization that these communities face when entering the professional and academic sectors and to support bringing more BIPOC voices into the field of art therapy. Applications are being accepted for both January and May cohorts.

Application Requirements

  • A 2500 word essay written in APA format discussing how art making provides a connection to culture.
  • Fill out the APD application above
  • Include essay and notice of intention to apply for scholarship in application

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to [email protected] alongside the rest of your program application. All applications for the scholarship will be reviewed and in circumstances where more than one applicant has shown potential, CiiAT may decide to split the scholarship accordingly.

Diploma Courses

A total of 10 academic-related instructional courses and 7 clinical-related instructional courses must be completed to meet graduation requirements. Students who have previously completed a thesis in a Masters program may be exempt from certain courses; please note that this will be determined upon review of your admission documents.

In addition to coursework, a total of 350 direct client contact hours must be completed as part of clinical placement.


History, Theories, and Approaches

Apply approaches from traditional psychotherapy to art therapy. Investigate client-inspired artworks using theories including psychoanalytic, object relations, humanistic, developmental, cognitive behavioural, gestalt, and phenomenological.

Through lecture, video, art-making, and reflection with instructors, students will achieve a working knowledge of the similarities and differences between the various theoretical constructs, and be able to recognize when and how to apply such theories and approaches to best serve their clients.

Ethical, Legal, and Cultural Considerations

Explore the ethical considerations in art therapy that combine to form the basis of the practicing art therapist’s values and beliefs.

Gain a thorough knowledge of the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) Code of Ethics, evaluate ethical dilemmas, and make clinical decisions based on art therapy ethical principles and legal requirements.

Disorders, Diagnoses, and Assessments

Examine the relationship between art, psychopathology, creativity, and healing. Students are provided with the opportunity to expand the concept of the progressive development and application of art therapy, effective treatment goals, and interventions with various client populations.

Investigate and learn how to use art therapy interventions with clients experiencing symptoms of the major diagnostic categories described in the current The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Attachment Informed Psychotherapy

Gain a comprehensive overview of an attachment-informed art therapy model with a focus on dyadic work between children and caregivers, as well as adolescents and adults.

Learn about the art therapy process as a vehicle for changing internal working models; creating a secure base in the therapeutic relationship with clients; formulating and processing relationship experiences; transference and countertransference; and working with different attachment styles or patterns, including insecure and conflicted.

Art Therapy with Families

Gain an introduction to the use of art therapy with families, including a review of the philosophy and epistemology of family therapy, systemic thinking, and attachment theory.

Explore various applications and assessment techniques to family art therapy and family trauma, addressing family roles and hierarchies, strategic theory, re-framing, and role-playing. Investigate the complexities of culture in families and groups, and how this impacts the therapeutic relationship.

Studio Art Psychotherapy with Individuals

This studio-based course focuses on art therapy with individuals. Learn how to work in a one-on-one model from the intake process through assessment, treatment planning, intervention, and closure.

With a focus on applying theory, various techniques, and key factors in clinical practice, students will have an opportunity to create art, and to practice the role of the art therapist with their instructor and peers.

Studio Art Psychotherapy with Dyads

This studio-based course focuses on art therapy with adult dyads/couples, exploring ways to improve communication and build intimacy within a relationship. Students have the opportunity to actively explore their own self-reflective process, and to integrate their experience into current conceptual frameworks for clinical practice. Explore how art therapy techniques might be used to support the attachment theory taken by an emotionally focused approach to couples’ therapy.

Students will blend their interpersonal art processes through instructor-led art-making, with small group debriefing sessions and discussions focused on theory, technique and clinical practice in art therapy with couples.

Studio Art Psychotherapy with Groups

This studio-based course focuses on art therapy with groups. Learn group dynamic theories and approaches, and examine how to adapt facilitation practices for closed-ended and open-ended group formats. Experiment with a variety of art-making processes and materials and discuss their benefits in relation to a range of clinical presentations including but not limited to: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, and stress-related disorders.

Mandated and volunteer groups and community studios, commonly referred to as art hives, will also be discussed.

Research & Arts-Based Methodologies

Explore advanced qualitative and quantitative arts-based research approaches, and gain a deeper understanding of research methodology and how to apply it specifically to a thesis question. Learn the construction of a literature review through to data collection, analysis, and dessimination of results. There is a strong focus on critical thinking and further developing skills in presenting case studies as a research method.

*Post-MA students may not be required to take this course.

Thesis or Arts-Based Project

Gain the framework to focus on the integration of research skills that are relevant to art therapy practice and build an awareness of the ethical aspects of research and development work. With their research question at the forefront, students will gather data, analyze findings, and synthesize results for their final presentation.

*Post-MA students may not be required to take this course.

Case Studies in Art Therapy

An introduction to the value and structure of writing and presenting case studies that show a client’s progress with a clinical team.

Learn to observe and succintly present a client’s therapeutic journey, including the intake process, assessment, identifying the presenting problem, developing the treatment goals, documenting the client’s evolution through art images, and concluding summary.

Individual & Group Supervision

Gain confidence and competence in working with clients in a therapeutic relationship. A strong emphasis will be placed on confidential discussion of client sessions, confidential handling of files, personal observations and assessments, and recognizing client growth and regression. Students will also explore nonverbal cues in clients’ behaviour and artwork.

Supervisors will assess the clinical abilities of the student.

Professional & Clinical Practices

Explore how to shape a future professional practice with consideration to career preferences, regional considerations, and governing bodies. Become familiar with setting up security and safety protocols within a clinical practice.

This course will cover basic job application processes and marketing skills in preparation for graduation and future clinical work.

Clinical Interventions

Thoughout this course, students will practice, adapt, and implement symptom- and age-appropriate interventions for virtual and face-to-face clinical settings and for both individual and group work.

Through roleplaying and observation, learn to work with a variety of materials and become familiar with their inherent symbolism, meaning, metaphor, and sensory qualities.

Through the Lens: Authentic Art Therapy Sessions

Navigate the therapeutic process from intake to review through an authentic, unscripted video series of over 40 real art therapy sessions involving a Registered Art Therapist and therapy clients.

Explore the effects of different art therapy interventions while exploring adaptations and alternative processes for various client populations and symptomologies.

The Reality of Virtual Art Therapy

The field of psychotherapy is growing quickly – and so is art therapy. Explore the application of technology and its effect on art therapy practices. Students will become familiar with current platforms, equipment, and protocols for telehealth.

In addition, learn how to appropriately create, handle, and store clinical files, including charts, intakes, reviews, and closure forms.

Mind, Body, and Media

Explore how the use of media helps clients express emotions beyond words.

With a focus on somatic experiencing, students will gain a deeper understanding of the connection and disconnect of mind and body when various interventions are expressed in art therapy. Causes and treatment approaches to addressing somatic disconnection are also explored.

Clinical Placement

Take the knowledge and skills gained in theoretical and clinical coursework and apply it directly to various client populations and diagnoses.

Through observation, analysis, practice, and review, students will become familiar with current clinical practices. Students will be placed at a facility that is aligned with their long-term career goals, and will be supervised, assessed, and evaluated by both a site supervisor and a Registered Art Therapist school supervisor.

Studying with CiiAT is more than just an education,

it’s a personal journey within a supportive community.

Whether it’s through our small, intimate classes, or through our friendly administrative and technical support team, we strive to provide personalized help and attention.


All of our programs have been designed with an optimal online learning experience in mind. Part of our highly interactive classes involves Moodle, an intuitive learning support software that provides a base for communication, assignments, feedback, and class resources. Never used Moodle before? Think of it as your very own virtual classroom space!


As a school that is recognized by the Canadian Art Therapy Association, we match our Art Psychotherapy Diploma Program students with appropriate clinical placements in order to gain practical, real life experience. In addition to clinical placements in a student’s local community, we also offer an online clinical placement option through our Virtual Art Therapy Clinic.


Graduates from our diploma programs go on to work as Professional Art Therapists in a variety of settings. We offer a variety of professional support and resources for finding work post-graduation.

Way beyond my expectations

CiiAT is a unique institution for Art Therapy studies. As a student, I enjoy the opportunity to interact with a wide diversity of students located across the globe, all connected virtually. The program’s curriculum is intellectually and emotionally rewarding; it goes way beyond my expectations. Love it!

Lilach Schonberg
Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student

CiiAT gave lots of opportunities to me

CiiAT gave lots of opportunities to me. It opened up a new and exciting world of art therapy and welcomed me to the community of the specialists. I have met many new friends from abroad . Students from Europe, America and Asia are taking art therapy courses with CiiAT in the same time in live classes. We are staying in touch and looking forward to meeting each other in the international Art Therapy conferences.

Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student

Inspiring digital learning experience

It was so inspiring to be in a digital classroom with students from all over the world. I really appreciate being able to see and interact with my professor and classmates in real time in the online class each week…Truly revolutionary!

K. Jane
Clinical Art Therapy Diploma Student

Start this journey sooner

The Canadian Institute of Art Therapy is a great place to learn. I chose to study with CiiAT because of its personal and family feel and large multicultural and global perspective. Staff are so friendly and willingly helpful. The classes have quality content but their small size leaves plenty of room to participate and deepen learning from each other and the instructor. Study groups are optional but so rich that I attend as many as I possibly can… It’s like getting twice the class you pay for. CiiAT is on the  leading edge of education and training with their virtual art therapy clinic. It provides such a valuable service to the community, while giving students an opportunity to experience a way of providing therapy that makes them flexible for the future. I have felt so supported in my educational learning and personal growth at CiiAT. I’ve made meaningful connections with teachers and fellow students and feel confident about my future in art therapy. I only wonder why I didn’t start this journey sooner

Tehani Burnett
Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student

It was such a positive experience

Choosing a career shift into Art Therapy was a huge decision! My first experience with CiiAT was taking their Therapeutic Arts Practitioner Program (TAPPs) in Spring 2022 and it was a transformational course for me. Each of the four modules had a huge impact on both my personal artistic/therapeutic practice and deciding what I wanted to do with my career. TAPPs gave me a strong foundation in therapeutic arts and solidified my decision to apply to their Art Psychotherapy Diploma (APD). It’s exciting to be in an international program, our cohort is from all around the world. I also chose CiiAT because they are now recognized by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) and that will aid my entry into the field as I intend to practice in Ontario.

They use an online learning platform called Moodle. My previous experience being a student was in the early 2000’s so I’m honestly blown away by the ability to learn remotely like this. And no database is perfect of course but they are very responsive to questions and feedback.

The staff and instructors are really vocal about celebrating what everyone brings to the table and helping us navigate how we’re going to have the greatest impact in this field based on who we are and how we want to use the credentials we’re working towards.

Choosing the right school is a really personal decision and each Canadian program that is recognized by CATA will provide the same core curriculum but through a different lens/experience. If you’re considering this field, I highly recommend taking CiiAT’s TAPPs program to start, it was such a positive experience and would be useful for anyone, even if you’re not looking to do the APD.

Rachel Robbins
Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student

Happy with the quality

I have been very happy with the quality of the teaching and the way that classes are taught and organized. I highly recommend this program.

Barb Pierce
Art Psychology Diploma Student

I felt at home

You are a professional who desires to become an art therapist, or just acquire extra knowledge about it, CIIAT is the right educational international institute for you. It offers a variety of programs – all interesting ! – and provides great support for their students. The courses can be offered online and if you do a practicum, you will be supervised. All the personal at CIIAT are very helpful, knowledgeable and supportive. When I registered and started my courses with CIIAT, I felt at home and comfortable with the way they deliver the courses. I also enjoy interacting with the other students and teachers online while having the flexibility to do the courses from home

Nathalie Paradis
Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student

Fostered immense growth

As a student, I have had an exceptional experience here. All of the instructors are extremely knowledgeable and supportive. Additionally, the course load was manageable as a working professional. I feel like my education at CiiAT has fostered immense growth. If I had to make the choice again, I would choose to attend CiiAT, every time.

Jessica Hartig
Graduated Art Psychotherapy Diploma Student