Posted May 22, 2017

Tyler offers undergraduate art therapy program

The new BA in art therapy was designed in response to the No. 1 requested program among current and prospective students of the top-rated Tyler School of Art.

Associate Professor Lisa Kay teaching a class.
Photography By: 
Betsy Manning
Associate Professor Lisa Kay (center), who heads the art education program, played an instrumental role in designing the curriculum for the art therapy BA.

A new undergraduate program at the Tyler School of Art will meld art and psychology, giving aspiring art therapists a strong foundation for graduate studies and careers.

The Bachelor of Arts in art therapy, which will host its first full cohort of students in the fall, has long been a vision of Tyler Associate Vice Dean Carmina Cianciulli, who helped to shepherd the program along with Associate Professor Lisa Kay, a board-certified art therapist who heads the art education program and spearheaded the art therapy curriculum design.

“This has been a dream of mine since I came to Tyler, so this is more than 20 years,” Cianciulli said. “For many years, I directed admissions, and it was the No. 1 request for a program we did not have. We have many students who are in the BA in visual studies program who minor or double major in psychology because they’re interested in becoming art therapists.”

The bachelor’s in art therapy is a 120-credit program that includes art and art education courses at Tyler, along with psychology courses in the College of Liberal Arts. Students will gain field experience through a required fieldwork capstone course.

“We have students already who know they want to go to graduate school for art therapy, so this gives them a really strong foundation,” said Kay. “They’re going to be out in the field working with other mental-health professionals who value the therapeutic aspect of art.”

The program is designed to provide students with all of the requirements they will need to pursue graduate programs in art therapy. For students who elect not to pursue art therapy as a career, the program will provide a solid foundation for work in related fields, Kay said.

The BA program gives students an incredible edge and an extra level of expertise for a smooth transition to graduate school."
-- Hester Stinnett, Tyler School of Art interim dean

The program was approved in December, Cianciulli said, and within a month of it being officially offered, Tyler received four deposits for the fall semester. By mid-May, there were 10 deposits for incoming students and six students who transferred from within Temple into the program—a full cohort, Cianciulli said, as the program class size is 15.

“The BA program gives students an incredible edge and an extra level of expertise for a smooth transition to graduate school,” Tyler Interim Dean Hester Stinnett said.

Besides students who will go on to become art therapists, Stinnett said art therapy courses also provide future art teachers with important skills and knowledge.

“We have seen that teachers need all the tools they can get to prepare them for the classroom, and the skills and techniques used in art therapy can also be used by teachers,” Stinnett said.

The program meets standards set by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and in designing it, administrators followed the guidelines set forth by the American Art Therapy Association for undergraduate programs in art therapy.

For the new art therapy program, which she will head, Kay said she needed to design only three new courses: Introduction to Art Therapy, Creative Process in Art Therapy, and Fieldwork in Art Therapy. Other courses in the major were pulled from existing Tyler and College of Liberal Arts programs.

“It really takes the strength of Tyler and the strength of the College of Liberal Arts and puts them together,” Stinnett said.