LFA Certified Expressive Arts Practitioner Program

The LFA Certified Expressive Arts Practitioner (CEAP) Program is an 11 month course of study for those interested in the professional field of intermodal expressive arts. Some graduates may choose to simply use this training to enhance the work they are doing in their current profession, while others may wish to apply certificate hours towards the REAT (Registered Expressive Arts Therapist) or REACE (Registered Expressive Arts Consultant Educator) credential through the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA)

LFA's CEAP program is open to anyone who is interested in learning how to use the arts to help others, such as their clients or students. Please note it is a certificate program, and does not give a degree. Also, if you want to receive the Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) designation, there are additional requirements, such as having an MA in counseling or MFA. Please contact us at 773-327-7224 with questions about the program.

REAT- If you want to apply your hours towards the REAT credential you must have a Master’s degree in Psychology, Educational Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, related mental health discipline (for this category 200 hrs of practicum must be completed with 25 hrs of  individual supervision or 50 hrs of group supervision).  Or you may have a Masters in Fine Arts (music, visual arts, dance, drama, etc.) (For this category you must complete 500 hrs of practicum with 50 hrs of individual supervision or 100 hrs of group supervision).  


REACE - If you want to apply your certificate hours towards the REACE credential, You must have a Masters in Expressive Arts,  Psychology,  Education,  Educational Psychology,  Counseling,  Spiritual Development or Pastoral Field ,Social Work,  Business Management  Organizational Development, or Any of the Creative Arts. No practicum or supervision hours are required.


Professional registration as a REAT or REACE  have additional requirements. Please visit IEATA www.ieata.org. For updated information.

Structure of the CEAP Program

LFA's CEAP program takes 11 months, and is divided into 11 seminars. Each seminar is a one-month process that begins with home study reading, assignments and discussion with instructor and fellow students through an online discussion venue, and concludes with a full-day workshop (9:30 AM - 5:30 PM) on the last day of the seminar. Seminars are held on Sundays.

For example: the seminar would start on September 8 with home study reading, online assignments and discussion with instructor and fellow students, and conclude with a full-day workshop on October 8, the last day of the seminar.


Please contact Joan at 773-327-7224 or joan@lifeforcearts.org for more information and registration

Certified Expressive Arts Practitioner Program

September 2017- August 2018

Cost: You can pay the full amount before beginning the course,  or make monthly payments.

$4,100 if paid all at once  Monthly payment plan: pay $409 per month for 11 months ($4500).

Full-day In-person workshops are on Sundays from 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM at Life Force Arts Center, 1609 W Belmont, Chicago IL 60657

Start date is September 8, 2017 with first in-person class on Sunday, October 8, 2017.  Other full-day in-person workshops will be on Sundays, dates listed below.

September 8 - October 8, 2017 - Expressive Arts Therapy/ History:  Life Force Arts Method. Program begins with home study/online learning -  Full day  in-person intensive (9:30 AM - 5:30 PM): Life Force Arts Method on October 8, 2017 

October - November 12, 2017-  Expressive Arts Therapy/ History: The Creative Connection (Natalie Rogers) (continued home study/online learning EXA approaches and practices)  Full day in-person intensive. on November 12, 2017

November - December, 10, 2017 - Intermodal Expressive Arts therapy (Levine approach) (continued home study/online learning EXA approaches).  Full day in-person intensive:  on December, 10, 2017

December - January 14, 2018 -  Visual Art Therapy History/theory (home study/online learning, and prepare art project for Full day intensive)  Full day intensive art therapy techniques- Doll making, mask and instrument making on January 14, 2018

January - February 11, 2018 -  Dance movement therapy history (home study/online learning). Full day intensive dance therapy techniques on February 11, 2018 

February - March 11, 2018 Music therapy history (home study/online learning). Full day  intensive music therapy techniques on March 11, 2018

March - April 8, 2018 -  Drama therapy history (home study/online learning). Full day intensive Drama therapy and Psychodrama techniques; Creating Healing Ritual/Sacred Ceremony on April 8, 2018

April - May 6, 2018- Literary arts in therapy (home study/online learning) Full day intensive techniques- poetry, creative writing and journaling on May 6, 2018

May - June 10, 2018 - Intuitive Healing Arts (home study/online learning) Full day intensive - Dream work and Expressive arts therapy; vibrational therapies (crystal healing, essential oils, color, sound etc) and Tarot archetypes and expressive arts on  June 10, 2018 

July 8, 2018 & August 12, 2018  - Final projects/presentations

Graduates of LFA's Certified Expressive Arts Practitioner program receive a Certificate of Completion for the program.

The Faculty

Szmeralda Shanel MA (Lead Instructor) is a visual, ritual and performing artist as well as a published author. She is a Life Force Arts Artist in Residence, and has worked in the field of expressive arts for over twenty years. In addition to being a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, Szmeralda has been trained and initiated into several traditional healing systems and is an ordained interfaith minister, spiritual counselor and holistic healer. She is the founder of The Art of Healing http://www.asacredart.com

Joan Forest Mage, MA (Lead Instructor) is the founder and director of the Life Force Arts Center and developer of the Life Force Arts Method of spiritual and artistic teaching.  She has a Master of Arts Degree from De Paul University's School for New Learning, with the focus area "Creating Healing Ritual Through the Arts." Joan is a contributing author to the book on Expressive Arts Therapy Healing with Art and Soul: Engaging One’s Self Through Art Modalities. A Certified Movement Analyst in somatics with the Laban/Bartenieff Institute, Joan has over thirty years of professional performing and teaching experience as a dancer, singer and theater performer, and two music CDs to her credit. Joan studied shamanism, energy work and healing ritual with numerous teachers. She has taught classes and workshops in the arts, body movement, fitness and yoga since 1985, and created the Life Force Arts Shamanic Training Program in 2001.  Contact Joan at Joan@LifeForceArts.org or 773-327-7224.

Associate Instructors

In addition to the two lead instructors, several guest teachers will present units within the program on their specialties in healing with the visual, literary and performing arts. These instructors represent a diverse community of professional teaching artists, artist-healers, and expressive arts therapists who explore the connection between the arts, healing and spiritual practice.  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. 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. this multimodal approach is used within psychology, organizational development, community arts, healing arts and education (http://www.ieata.org/who-we-are.html)
2.  What is expressive arts therapy?
Expressive arts therapy is the integrated use of the visual arts, music, movement/dance, drama, writing and other creative processes in the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation or other healing/wellness practices.  
This therapeutic approach has been used successfully with individuals, groups, children and adults as an intervention in the treatment of various behavioral, emotional and mental health conditions including grief, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and social challenges.
While the professional field of expressive arts therapy is relatively young, creative expression and the arts have been used for health and well being since ancient times by people across cultures in communal healing rituals.
One does not need to be an artist or have artistic ability to participate in or benefit from expressive arts therapy. The power of this practice is found not in the final product but in the art making process, for it is within the creative process that one experiences personal growth, healing and transformation.  
3.  Who can do expressive arts? ( IEATA FAQ http://www.ieata.org/faqs.html )
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.  
While you do not need to have a degree, certification, registration or license to share the skills that you gain in the training with other populations It should be noted that you need to be currently licensed as a psychotherapist or counselor to practice expressive arts in psychotherapy or  clinical counseling.
4. Who is this training good for?
Our expressive arts training program is good for anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how the arts can facilitate personal growth, healing and transformation. This training is especially good for professionals in the fields of education, psychotherapy, counseling, social work, community development, activism, health care, child life and others who would like to find ways to incorporate expressive arts processes into their current practice.
5. What can people do with the training that they receive?
What you do with your training in expressive arts is only limited by your imagination. Many choose to incorporate what they have learned into their current professional practices. Some may use what they have learned supporting their community in public projects/events,  or by volunteering in a community center.  While a teacher may decide to use expressive arts processes to work with their students in an educational setting, a nurse may decide to use what they have learned to support their patients or even other nurses. And there are those who may decide that they want to start a private practice working with individuals or groups in a studio space or offering expressive arts workshops to others.
6. After completing the training am I an Expressive Arts Therapist?
At the completion of your training you will be certified by Life Force Arts Center as an expressive arts practitioner. This is a certificate of completion of training in Expressive Arts.  The hours you have completed in your training can then be used towards international registration as an Expressive Arts Therapist or Expressive Arts Educator Consultant with IEATA.
7. What is IEATA?
The International Expressive Arts Therapy Association (IEATA), was founded in 1994 to encourage the creative spirit. The 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.  IEATA  is the professional guild that promotes professional competence, excellence and ethical standards of practice in expressive arts therapy (www.ieata.org)
A REAT is a person who holds the professional credential of Registered Expressive Arts Therapist.  The Expressive Arts Therapist integrates a variety of arts processes  such as the visual arts, music, movement/dance, drama, writing and other creative processes in the context of psychotherapy, counseling, rehabilitation or other healing/wellness practices.  The general requirements for the REAT credential 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.
A REACE is a person who hold the professional credential of Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator.  The  Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator uses a variety of arts process such as visual art, movement or dance, creative writing, voice techniques, music and poetry. She or he understands the potential in using expressive arts in the above contexts and has working knowledge of the various art processes and materials.
These individuals may have formal training through academic settings or training institutes, or may have acquired experience through a collection of appropriate trainings and workshops.  
While the expressive arts therapy environment requires an in-depth understanding of human development and psychological growth, those in the Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator field will have a broad spectrum of educational and/or professional backgrounds. These professionals may work in organizational development, management, health care, service organizations, primary, secondary or adult education, and a wide spectrum of additional environments.
The Consultant/Educator can be a facilitator for groups or individuals, for organizations and in academic settings. Some examples of Consultant/Educator roles and settings include:
  • Facilitate or teach in a private institute or academic setting
  • Guide or facilitate individuals seeking to reframe their lives
  • Use the arts to assist a group or individuals exploring personal growth
  • Bring the arts into schools or the private sector to work with at-risk youth
  • Work with those facing the challenges of physical illness and/or death and dying
  • Work with organizations and leaders to facilitate conflict and to assist in team building
10. Do I need to become a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist to practice expressive arts therapy? ( Ieata http://www.ieata.org/faqs.html )
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.
11. Does this training enable me to be a licensed counselor or psychologist?

 Most states require a master's degree in counseling or psychology in order to apply for a license as a counselor or psychologist. Because LFA's CEAP program is not a degree program, you would need additional training to become licensed. 

12. What is unique about The LFA Certified Expressive Arts training program?
Spiritual BasisMost expressive arts training programs tend to have a foundation based on psychology only, while our program's foundation is based on a non-denominational spiritual approach that also includes many principles from psychology

Based in Chicago - LFA Certified Expressive Arts Practitioner program is one of the few Expressive Arts training programs in Chicago

Certificate Program rather than Degree Program - Our program provides excellent training in Expressive Arts, while being shorter and less expensive than a degree program in Expressive Arts


Last modified: Saturday, August 26, 2017, 10:34 PM