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Frequently Asked Questions / Who Are We?

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The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA), a non-profit, professional organization, was founded in 1994 to encourage the creative spirit. Our inclusive, culturally diverse organization supports expressive arts therapists, artists, educators, consultants and others using integrative, multimodal arts processes for personal and community growth and transformation.

How does IEATA's membership and leadership work?

The inspired collaboration of our international board of directors nurtures IEATA’s heartfelt and democratic environment. Board members work through a wide array of committees and dedicate countless volunteer hours. Their caring and creative direction provides leadership, strength and forward movement of expressive arts around the world.

What are the Expressive Arts?

The expressive arts combine the visual arts, movement, drama, music, writing and other creative processes to foster deep personal growth and community development. IEATA encourages an evolving multimodal approach within psychology, organizational development, community arts and education. By integrating the arts processes and allowing one to flow into another, we gain access to our inner resources for healing, clarity, illumination and creativity.

What does IEATA do?

  1. Worldwide Community:

IEATA seeks to build and sustain a worldwide community, offering an open forum for dialogue. IEATA provides a professional guild and an international network for bringing the arts into the world for growth, healing, communication and collaborative learning. We sponsor bi-annual international conferences. Our website includes a wealth of information about our association and activities, including the option to join and renew membership online. We offer a searchable Member Directory and the IEATA Members Network, our online community, where members can connect with each other in regional groups (see Member Login Page); share images, videos or music; promote upcoming events; or post bulletin board listings such as job opportunities, RFPs, office space rentals, etc. We also publish a semi-annual, members-only Newsletter, and the quarterly IEATA News is sent by email.

  1. Professional Excellence:

IEATA promotes professional excellence and standards of practice in the field of expressive arts. One of IEATA's key missions is to promote professional excellence and ethical standards of practice. To this end, IEATA has established an application and registration process for Registered Expressive Arts Therapists (REATs) and Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educators (REACEs). These practitioners are guided by an established professional code of ethics, an expression of values and goals that help define our work as a professional community.

  • REAT registration is designed for those using the expressive arts in psychotherapy.
  • REACE registration includes expressive arts consultants and educators using the expressive arts in a broad range of approaches in education, organizational development, health fields and more.
  1. Increased Awareness:

IEATA seeks to increase recognition and use of expressive arts as a powerful tool for social/psychosocial, physical and spiritual wellness. IEATA engages artists, educators, therapists and other facilitators in all aspects of expressive arts practices. Our biennial international conference attracts more than 300 participants and presenters from around the world. We also cultivate relationships with other professional organizations and academic institutions to increase awareness and expansion of the expressive arts.

  1. International School and Social Directories:

We are constantly reviewing and updating our information in an effort to keep up with the ever-changing nature of curricula and institutions. IEATA aims to increase the recognition and use of expressive arts as a powerful tool for psychosocial, physical and spiritual wellness.  Please visit our Educational Resources page for an updated list of international schools and programs affiliated with IEATA. If you know of a program or school that could be added, please contact the Educational Resources Committee.

What is the difference between art therapy, dance/movement therapy, poetry therapy, music therapy and expressive arts therapy?

These are all examples of creative arts therapy. Most of these disciplines find grounding in a single art modality, but expressive arts therapy differs in that its practitioners draw from many art forms and apply them to therapy in an integrated fashion. Expressive arts therapists find their grounding not in a particular art form, but rather in a theoretical orientation rooted in what all the arts have in common. The use of or combination of different arts-based modalities thus becomes itself a new modality separate and distinct from the sum of its parts. Expressive Arts Therapists call upon their own creativity and training with arts-based approaches to determine which modality or combination of modalities is needed in any given moment in time.

Can anyone do expressive arts therapy?

Anyone can do art, and there are many ways in which the arts enter into therapy and personal healing; engaging in art with no professional support at all can still be therapeutic, people can increase their self-awareness through art education, and some counselors incorporate creative approaches in their practices. However, only those trained in expressive arts therapy can call their work expressive arts therapy. Training offers focused attention and skill-building not only in how to use various art forms for self-expression, but also in fine-tuning aesthetic judgment, therapeutic presence, and the ability to guide people safely and meaningfully through processes that can be intense and powerful.

How can I become an expressive arts therapist?

Masters level training programs exist in a number of universities in the United States, and post-graduate study can also be completed at a number of institutes around the world. It is now possible to acquire a doctoral level degree in expressive arts therapy as well.  More information can be found at the Educational Resources tab at www.ieata.org.

Must you become a registered expressive arts therapist to practice expressive arts therapy?

The highest credential for practitioners of expressive arts therapy is Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT).  However, those who have completed proper training may call themselves expressive arts therapists. For ensuring high professional standard and ethical delivery of expressive arts therapy, supervised practice is recommended.

How do I become registered in expressive arts therapy?

The general guidelines for REAT include a master’s degree, completion of training led by a registered expressive arts therapist, and 2,000 hours of supervised practice in expressive arts therapy.

Do I need to be an expressive arts therapist to join the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA)?

Absolutely not!  Although expressive arts therapists started the organization in the early 1990s, IEATA is dedicated to supporting the professional development of people who use expressive arts not only in therapy but also in education, consultation, social action, and art-making for arts’ sake.  Those who engage expressive arts modalities in education and consulting may now become registered as expressive arts consultants and educators (REACE).  There is also a membership category for organizations who want to support the work of IEATA.

What are the benefits of membership?

Members enjoy a variety of benefits, including print and electronic newsletters, the opportunity to exchange ideas and conversations with others through a member’s only NING network, reduced conference rates, scholarship opportunities, meaningful volunteer opportunities, and the satisfaction of supporting an organization with a mission to make a real difference in the world.

Learn more about the benefits of becoming a member >




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