Notre Dame de Namur University to Offer Nation’s First Ph.D. in Art Therapy

New program is also school’s first doctoral degree program

BELMONT, CA, January 9, 2013 — Notre Dame de Namur University is pleased to announce that beginning in fall 2013, it will become the first university in the nation to offer a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Art Therapy. With 133 students, NDNU’s master’s program in art therapy is the largest in the United States and is recognized internationally as one of the leading art therapy programs in the world. This will be NDNU’s first doctoral program.

“Art therapy, as a discipline, has been practiced since the 1940s and has grown rapidly recent years,” said Dr. Richard Carolan, chair of the NDNU Department of Art Therapy, “The need for a rigorous program designed to produce art therapists with a high level of skill in both research and clinical work has been clear for several years. As a recognized leader in the field of art therapy it was logical for NDNU to offer the first Ph.D. in this discipline.” He added that in recent years, positions for art therapists have been growing rapidly in hospitals, K-12 school programs, community agencies, military family and veteran’s health services and services for the elderly.

NDNU President Judith Greig noted that art therapy has taken root at NDNU, in part because it is so closely aligned with the school’s mission of community service. “As part of their internships, students in the NDNU art therapy program provide valuable support for dozens of local community social service and health agencies,” she said.

According to the Art Therapy Association (ATA), art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. Research in the field confirms that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

The three-year NDNU Ph.D. program is designed for working art therapy professionals with master’s degrees in art therapy or a related field and emphasizes scholarly research as well as clinical expertise. NDNU, long a pioneer in the field of art therapy, has offered a master of arts in art therapy for more than 30 years and was one of the first schools in the west to offer the degree. Master’s students may also earn a master of arts in marriage and family therapy through the art therapy department. Both degrees lead to registration as an art therapist (ATR). Mount Mary College in Milwaukee is the only other institution offering a post-master’s degree in art therapy, a doctorate in art therapy (DAT). According to the Art Therapy Association, two other schools offer art therapy as a concentration within other disciplines and two others offer doctorates in creative/expressive art therapies.