Art Psychotherapy Diploma Program (APD)

Replaces the Clinical Art Therapy Diploma (CATD)
Expanded to include a stronger focus on telehealth and virtual art therapy


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.

Diploma Length: 2 to 2.5 years

Delivery: Online, with opportunities for in-person clinical placements within your community

Credential: Diploma

Title: Art Psychotherapist

Cost: $22,600 – $28,000

Time: Varies
Maximum Students: 20 per class

Amount of Homework: 4-12 hours/week

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.

September 2023


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

When applying, please 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.


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
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between art-making, psychopathology, creativity, and wellness
  • Recognize and demonstrate an understanding of the connections between art therapy, trauma, and neuroscience
  • Learn and train to work with individuals, groups, and families in crisis through attachment and trauma-informed practices
  • Become competent at each stage of the art therapy process, including client intake, treatment goal-setting, therapeutic intervention, and closure
Admission Requirements

Prospective students must submit or demonstrate:

  • A completed copy of the Application Form;
  • 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 (see below)

Application Fees: A non-refundable application fee of $150.00 is required to be submitted along with your application package. Once you have submitted your completed application package, CiiAT will invoice you at the provided email on your application.

Equivalency Assessments: An Equivalency Assessment (EA) is available for applicants who do not hold or have not completed a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited university required for admission to CiiAT. The Equivalency Assessment application and process is to determine that the applicant has the required knowledge and skills that would match the equivalent of a university degree and would be successful in completing the program. The cost of applying for an EA is $200.

Interview and Acceptance of Admission: After your application has been accepted and approved, you will interview with a member of CiiAT’s faculty. Afterward, the Enrollment Director will notify you in writing of the admission decision. The Institute reserves the right to admit or deny admission to any applicant based on the professional judgment of the Executive and Clinical Directors and administration involved in the admission process.

Tuition Fees & Scholarships


Post-BA $28,000 over a monthly payment period of 20 months ($1400 per month)

*Post-MA $22,600 over a monthly payment period of 16 months ($1412.50 per month)

*Pending transcript review

Additional Fees

  • Textbooks
  • Art supplies
  • Courses must be completed within two years or a course extension fee may be applied.
  • Practicum must be completed within two years of practicum initiation or an extension fee may be applied.



Please submit scholarship entries alongside the rest of your application. Scholarship entries submitted outside this time may not be considered.

The Lucille Proulx Legacy Scholarship Award:
Up to $5,000 in tuition credit
The Lucille Proulx Legacy scholarship is for prospective CiiAT students with a proven commitment to art as a tool for healing in their community.

Application Requirements: Requirements include submitting a 2,500 word written essay in APA format, about the applicant’s work in the field, with a pictorial compilation demonstrating community-based artwork. This scholarship will require an interview with a CiiAT Director.

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to .


Serve & Protect Scholarship Award:
Up to $2,000 in tuition credit
This scholarship is available to Canadian veterans, fire, police, and ambulance personnel.

Application Requirements: A 1,000 word written reflective essay, photo essay or video about how art and creativity have helped them or others. Proof of service is required.

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to .


CiiAT Library Scholarship Award:
$500 tuition credit

This Library scholarship is designated to support students with purchasing art therapy books for their training.

Application Requirements: Eligibility criteria includes submitting a 1,500 word essay in APA format, about what art therapy means to them with personal art reflections embedded. Awardees will be required to submit for publication to the CATA newsletter within a year of enrollment in the Art Psychotherapy Diploma program.

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to .


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 HERE
  • Include essay and notice of intention to apply for scholarship in application

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to . 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.



Local Victoria Scholarship for Art Psychotherapy Diploma:
Up to $5000 tuition credit

CiiAT is proud to offer a scholarship to support a local* Victoria student to attend our Art Psychotherapy Diploma (APD) to become a professional art therapist. 

We believe in having strong community connections. A part of our organizational mission is to bring the healing power of art therapy to the Victoria community we reside in. By offering a scholarship towards our APD program, we are hoping to give a student the opportunity to bring the therapeutic arts into their career within the Victoria community.

Application Requirements:

  • A 2500 word essay written in APA format discussing how the student has or plans to use art to connect to the local community
  • Fill out the APD application HERE
  • Include essay and notice of intention to apply for scholarship in application

Scholarship essays need to be sent in by email to . 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.


* (currently residing in Victoria or surrounding communities)




The Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) also offers sponsorships and bursaries.



Scholarships to CiiAT programs are not to be combined. One per student in an effort to allow multiple students to benefit. 

CiiAT reserves the right to award scholarships to multiple applicants if the organization sees fit. 

COVID-19 vaccination records may be required for in-person activities (ie, clinical placements)

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.


“Every experience I have had so far with CiiAT has been nothing short of amazing. From their theoretical, studio art, and virtual classes to the facility’s knowledgeable, supportive, and top-notch staff, this school continues to exceed my expectations.”

~ Ashley N. ~

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