M.Ed. in Counseling & Personnel Services (Art Therapy)

The Annual Art Therapy Forum will be held Saturday, October 15, 2022 from 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. via Zoom Meeting Online. The Forum includes presentations and Q&A sessions about the program and profession. Please email Marybeth Orton for a virtual invite to the Art Therapy Forum.

The M.Ed in Counseling and Personnel Services with a concentration in Art Therapy was the first art therapy university-based educational program established in the U.S. Our students meet requirements for national certification as art therapists as well as licensure as art therapists in the state of KY.

Vija Lusbrink 2016

Vija B. Lusebrink, 97, celebrated art therapist, professor, author, artist, colleague, and mentor passed away on June 12. Her passing is sorrowful for countless art therapists across the US and abroad. Her impact on the world of art therapy is expansive and profound. It is amazing that a person who dealt with so many challenges as a young adult evolved into a master art therapist, professor, and author.

Her journey from war torn Latvia to the United States was harrowing both during and in the aftermath of WWII. Yet she, along with her mother and sister, made it to the US. During the early years of her life in the US, Vija received a BS in chemistry, an MFA in painting, and raised three daughters.

Vija found art to be vital to her life. Living in California offered her numerous opportunities for involvement in arts, healing, and human potential workshops, which included learning from noted thinker John W. Perry and renowned art therapist Janie Rhyne. What evolved from these encounters was a passion for learning about and conducting art therapy, which led her to take a position at a hospital for those suffering from mental illnesses.

At the hospital, she realized that she had a desire to teach others what she learned from conducting art therapy with the patients. In 1974 she applied for and received a position at the Institute for Expressive Therapies (IET) housed at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. She taught there until her retirement in 1995, which included nine years as its director (1986-1995). She was proud to have taught over 400 students through two decades at UofL.

While at UofL, she completed a doctorate degree where she explored her theories on various levels of artistic expression. These studies included the seeds of the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC), which she refined with her colleague, Sandra (Kagin) Graves. Together they published a 1978 article on the topic in the Arts in Psychotherapy. In her book, Imagery and Visual Expressive in Art Therapy (1990), Vija delved more deeply into the theory of the ETC. This framework was a major advancement in the field of art therapy as it is one of the first theoretical perspectives that was rooted in the theory and practice of art therapy.

Vija Lusbrink 1963

The ETC is now taught in numerous graduate art therapy programs here and around the world. Vija developed and maintained strong ties to art therapists in Latvia through advising research projects, co-writing papers, and teaching. In April of 2018, she gave a final lecture to the art therapy department at the University of Riga, the city where she was born.

In addition to the ETC, Vija had three other areas of inquiry that fed her intellectual curiosity: levels of expression across the arts therapies, the importance of symbols in cross-cultural studies of art therapy, and imagery as healing.

In understanding imagery and its link to healing, Vija subscribed to the use of visual journals. For students, she called these ‘doodle diaries’ because she did not want students to think too hard about the journal entries and wanted the entries to be spontaneous. She theorized that these images, over time, would open the unconscious world of the individual. She encouraged the use of dream journals as well. In her own experience journaling her dreams and then drawing them, led her to realize she might have cancer, a carcinoma, on her back. Without the use of the dream and doodle journal, she may not have sought treatment for this lethal disease.

Recently, Vija studied advances in neuroscience and how these advances underscore the significance of the ETC. She authored several articles on this subject. It is unbelievable that she recently penned a final article on the ETC during her 96th year.

Vija worked tirelessly for American Art Therapy Association (AATA) through three committees: Education, Standards, and Research. She also was instrumental in the formation of the Kentucky Art Therapy Association (KYATA)and often offered lectures and workshops for this group. Upon her retirement from UofL, KYATA honored her with bestowing a research award in her name for deserving students.

For her significant contributions to the field of art therapy, AATA awarded Vija the Honorary Life Member (HLM), its highest honor, in 1995. There is little doubt that Vija made a major contribution to the field of art therapy. Her brilliance, her sensitivity, and her warm, lovely smile will be missed by many. She will not be forgotten any time soon.

Taylor Ray

The Art Therapy program at UofL offers students a well balanced education in both art and psychology classes, as well as provides the time to still maintain your own self care in graduate school. I am thankful to have chosen a University where the faculty and staff genuinely care about my education and success in the program.

Taylor Ray, Art Therapy Student

Art Therapy strives to be an outstanding program--to be in the forefront of excellence in research, scholarship, education, and clinical application; to discover and provide expansion and integration of individual and group art therapy ideology and services into diverse segments of the culture.

Application Deadline: February 1st for Fall (only) admission.

Jonathan Hernandez

Everybody is friendly and the professors are wonderful teachers as well as mentors and will do their best to help you with whatever you need. Further, the program is not only an opportunity to develop as a therapist, but also an opportunity to make new future art therapy friends. Moreover, the program includes three semesters of practicum that offers great experiences for what it will be like as a therapist after graduation. I believe this program has a lot to offer future art therapy students and I recommend it to those who are interested in art therapy.

Jonathan Hernandez, Art Therapy Graduate

CAAHEP Accreditated Program

The University of Louisville is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs www.caahep.org


Graduates of the program secure employment in private school settings, medical hospitals, inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, drug and alcohol treatment centers, and forensic correctional institutions.

Note: Meeting GRE score and GPA minimums does not guarantee a student will be accepted to the program.

Admission Requirements for Art Therapy

Prospective students must submit an online application for admission to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.

  • The minimum requirement for admission is the baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution. Minimum overall GPA of 2.75, or 2.75 on the last 60 undergraduate hours, is required. Applicants are required to submit all official transcripts from all colleges attended as verification of coursework and degree(s).

    Applicants who have attended a college or university outside of the United States are also required to submit an evaluation of their transcript through either WES (World Education Services) or ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators). Please note that transcript evaluations can sometimes take several weeks.

    Please have transcripts sent to:
    Graduate School
    University of Louisville
    Louisville, KY 40292

    If transcripts are sent electronically,
    please have them sent to the following e-mail: gradadm @ louisville.edu

  • Each applicant is required to submit at least two letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to the applicant's academic and/or professional capabilities and potential. Please download the Graduate School recommendation form [PDF].
  • Prospective students must submit a professional goal statement [PDF] appropriate to their stated area of concentration for admission to the degree program. Please submit the cover sheet (see link) along with your goal statement.
  • Students for whom English is not their primary languagemust show English language proficiency by successfully completing one of the following: Note: International students who have earned a degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. are not required to complete the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo.

In addition to these requirements, admission to the degree program may require completion of prerequisite undergraduate courses specific to each area of concentration.

Faculty may require interviews in addition to written credentials as part of the admission process.

Application Deadlines

Application Deadline: February 1st for Fall (only) admission.

Additional Requirements

In addition to general admission requirements for the degree, prospective students applying for a concentration in Art Therapy demonstrate evidence of having completed the following undergraduate coursework.

Art, 18 hours to include the following:

  • Basic drawing course
  • Course in painting
  • A course using clay
  • Three other studio courses of your choice (many students take 2D or 3D design, photography)

Psychology, 15 hours to include:

  • General or intro to psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Personality theory
  • Introductory statistics

Applicants to the Art Therapy program must also submit samples of their work including the following portfolio items:

  • Writing sample which reflects the student's ability to write a formal paper. A copy of paper written for a previous class will do.
  • Portfolio of student's artwork on CD/DVD; 10 images are recommended.

Experience in helping professions, either paid or volunteer, is recommended.


Eileen Estes
Department of Counseling and Human Development
Room 306
College of Education & Human Development
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Program Faculty

Opportunities for Graduates

Art Therapy is a human services profession. It provides individuals and groups with the means to support and express and explore feelings, thought, problems and potential through the use of art media and imagery. It is utilized with any age and in areas such as medical illness, grief, educational and behavioral problems, emotional issues, and even criminal behavior. It is one of the nonverbal expressive therapies (along with dance, drama, music and poetry therapy) where the process is emphasized rather than the product.

Financial Aid

In addition to the financial aid opportunities offered by the University, the College of Education & Human Development also has information about financial aid.

Other financial aid opportunities available include graduate assistantships and other employment opportunities.

I have some credit hours from another program/university. Can the credit be transferred?

Once you are admitted to the program, you may request to transfer up to 6 credit hours if your UofL advisor approves the request. Transfer requests are then submitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.