The Department of Creative Arts Therapy was established in 2019 as the seventh department in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).

Creative arts therapies include the regulated professions of art therapy, dance/movement therapy, music therapy, and drama therapy. The department plans to explore the potential for low-residency graduate training programs in some of these distinct professions. Currently the department is offering a master of science (M.S.) degree in art therapy, a 60-credit, low-residency program that prepares students to employ art-based approaches to counseling when working with diverse populations in a range of clinical and community-based settings.

As part of the department’s collaboration and partnership with the University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the art therapy program will be housed in the University’s new Daniel and Gayle D’Aniello Building, home to the National Veterans Resource Center (NVRC), the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and a new art gallery located within the NVRC that will be affiliated with the art therapy program.

Our Low-Residency Approach

VPA’s integrated approach with on-campus residencies and dynamic online learning offers flexibility to students seeking opportunities to further their education while maintaining other personal and professional commitments. The learning objectives in our art therapy program parallel those of traditional on-campus programs and emphasize community and cohort development.

Faculty Passionate about the Field

Faculty participate as active scholars and emerging leaders in the field who conduct original research, present their work at national and international conferences, write books or publish in academic journals, and participate in our field’s professional associations. Their rich research and scholarship interests enable them to engage students in contemporary trends and up-to-date practices in the field.

Interdisciplinary Opportunities

Partnerships across campus provide students with many opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary learning and benefit from the range of faculty expertise across several disciplines. VPA’s art therapy program works closely with the School of Education’s clinical mental health counseling program, Falk College’s marriage and family therapy department, and IVMF to expand learning and practicum experiences.


The mission of the Department of Creative Arts Therapy is to prepare students as ethical, competent, and culturally humble practitioners. Students will be able to apply psychosocial and systemic approaches to gain understanding of diverse clinical, social, and cultural issues that present in clinical and community-based practice. Programs will prepare students to employ the use of creative expression in individual, relational, and societal contexts to depict personal emotions and circumstances while serving as a catalyst for personal and social change, community development, and public health.

Programs will provide a hybrid low-residency approach to increase access to a wider variety of students by reducing barriers to education that some students experience with attending a traditional on-campus program. Through participation in experiential learning opportunities and engagement with curriculum that represents historic and contemporary practice issues, students gain self-awareness, insight, and skills regarding how to use their creative abilities and interests as practicing professionals in their field of study.


  • To lead in online education and telemental health practices in creative arts therapy through initiatives and innovation in research, scholarship, and teaching.
  • To offer on-demand programs and learning opportunities in creative arts therapy that prepare students for professional and advanced practice.
  • To be recognized nationally as a leading institution for training creative arts therapy practitioners to work with military connected populations.

Recent News

  • Rochele Royster

    Faculty News

    Rochele Royster, assistant professor of art therapy in the Department of Creative Arts Therapy, was named a 2021 Educator of Distinction by the Illinois Art Education Association. The award recognizes notable, high-caliber art and design professionals who serve as exemplars for the field. She is exhibiting her work “Dolls4Peace” in the four-person show Learned Objects through February 13, 2022, at DePaul Art Museum in Chicago. Read More...

  • Rochele Royster

    Faculty News

    Rochele Royster, assistant professor of art therapy in the Department of Creative Arts Therapy, is exhibiting work in the four-person show Learned Objects Sept. 9-Feb. 13, 2022, at DePaul Art Museum in Chicago. As educators and activists, the exhibiting artists create conditions for participants in their civically-engaged projects...

  • VPA new faculty members

    Faculty News

    VPA Welcomes New Full-Time Faculty

      The College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) welcomed ten new full-time faculty members for the 2021-22 academic year.  Read More...

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