Course Syllabus: History and Foundations of EXA   

California Institute of Integral Studies

EXA 5512-01:  3 Units
Section 1


Kate T. Donohue, Ph.D., REAT
Office hours by appointment on Fridays
Private Practice Phone: 415-695-1464
Fax: 415-296-7426
CIIS phone: ext. 412 (only available on Fridays)

Jack Weller


This course covers the creation of the EXA field; its history and philosophical foundations from its indigenous and multicultural roots to contemporary practices with individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. The class focuses on the innate healing power of the creative process in relation to the integrative use of visual arts, music, dance, drama, and imaginal language arts in therapy. We will explore the implications and interplay of EXA therapy within the Recovery Model of mental health as well as other EXA-based clinical approaches.

Purpose and Benefits of the Course:

The experienced EXA therapist must become familiar with the rich world of EXA approaches, theories, and multi-modal paradigms for the weaving of creative arts modalities into a healing process for their clients. In addition, familiarity with the creative process and its links with the therapeutic process and spiritual emergence must be a part of an EXA therapist’s repertoire. With this grounding, the new therapist can then develop her own EXA approaches that will address the issues and needs of her clients, cross-culturally with individuals and groups.

New Student Skills, Expected Outcomes and Applications to Professional Work:

Participants will learn these new skills, outcomes and applications to their work:

The students will be able to understand and critically analyze the formal history of the field of Expressive Arts Therapy including (a) the relationship to the individual Creative Arts Therapies fields, (b) the indigenous and multicultural roots of the arts, and (c) the innate healing power of the creative process.

The students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the theoretical foundations of the field of Expressive Arts Therapy including specific approaches such as Intermodal, Person-Centered, Narrative, Movement-Center etc.

The students will be able to demonstrate understanding of the implications of EXA-based clinical approaches for the Recovery Model of mental health.


Required Course Readings:

McNiff, Shaun, Integrating the Arts in Therapy.  Springfield Il: Charles Thomas, 2009

Coelho, Paulo, The Alchemist.  San Francisco, CA: HarperSan Francisco, 1994

Nachmanovich, S., Free Play: The Power of Improvisation.  New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Perigee Books, 1990.



Recommended Course Readings:

Strongly Suggested Readings:

Knill, P.J., Levine, E.G., and Levine, S.K. (2005) Principles and Practices of Expressive Arts Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Knill, P.J., Barba, H.N. and Fuchs, M. N. (1995) Minstrels of Soul: Intermodal Expressive Arts Therapy. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Palmerston Press.

Levine, S., and Levine, E. (eds.). (1999). The Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.


Other Suggested:

Lewis, P.  (1993). Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts.
Wilmette, Illinois: Chiron Publications.

McNiff, S, (1987).  The Arts and Psychotherapy.  Springfield, Illinois: Charles, C. Thomas.

Levy, F. (1995). Dance and Other Expressive Art Therapies. Routledge: New York.

Malchiodi, C. A. (ed.) (2005). Expressive Therapies. New York: The Guilford Press

Knill, P.J., Levine, E.G., and Levine, S.K. (2005). Principles and Practice of Expressive Arts Therapy. . Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers


Course Outline and Objectives:

We will meet on Fridays from 3-6 PM and one Saturday, October 29th from 9 AM-6 PM.

8/26.  In this class, we will begin to open the door to the field of expressive arts therapy.


First, we will delve into the three worlds of consciousness active in EXA through an experiential process. Using this process, we will begin to define EXA. We will close with a discussion of syllabus and assignments.

Introduction to the three realms of consciousness in EXA.

Contrast and comparison of the various creative arts modalities.

Discussion of two Arts projects and final paper.


Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



Non–dualism and its relationship to creativity, from class discussions and texts in the Reader.  [1 hour ?, this topic will keep coming up on all my discussions, beginning with Paradigms]

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



Historical Dimensions of EXA
Indigenous healing
Archetypal roots as seen in funeral rituals

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



In this class, we will investigate a Growth Model of  Flow/Process-oriented approaches to EXA through experiential process, class discussion and class demonstration. This process will focus on how to use EXA for creative growth as well as healing. This process will help us:

Contrast and compare these approaches in EXA and learn an embodied understanding of Knill’s key concepts in EXA.

We will also discuss the final arts assignment, which will be presented in the final class.

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



Teachings on artistic creativity, play, improvisation, and spirit from the text FREE PLAY. Particular emphasis on the themes of “letting go” and “surrender” [2+ hours]

Assignment: come to class with one topic or quotation from Free Play that is important to you.

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



Discussion of themes in the text THE ALCHEMIST, particularly the creative path in relation to our life path, guidance, omens along the way, how we create our own Personal Legend, non-dualistic elements, miracles, etc. [2 hours]

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



We will begin to explore the various ways EXA can be used in clinical practice. Starting with a focus on structure and direction, we will view applications of EXA to Trauma work. Using a video created by Melinda Meyer, we will see an application of EXA in working with prisoners of war. This will also help us investigate Cross-Cultural issues in EXA.

Discussion of Interview Assignment and Arts Project.

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment



Discussion of the themes in the 3 stories chosen from the text STONE BOY by Thich Nhat Hanh, particularly art and war, trauma, suffering and hope; music and healing; the path/journey of the artist; dreams, meditation and creativity from an Eastern perspective. [2 hours]

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment

9.-11. 10/29
Historical l Currents in EXA
Contemporary Trends
Current Professionals Development
Cultural Aspects of EXA: Feminine way of creativity. the video of the Gee’s Bend quilters, as an example of a more collaborative, group
Contemporary Recovery Modal Examples of EXA (Guest Speakers)

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment

12.  11/4

Introduction to the dimensions of EXA:
Using your journals, Knill in the reserves and all the individual arts handouts, we will explore what is unique about each modality. Working in small groups, each is assigned a different art modality, and using the new handouts provided, we will begin to define the phenomenological, social and therapeutic aspects of each modality. This will help us compare and contrast each modality and help give foundation for weaving arts modalities into integrated expressive arts processes.

We will also discuss how to approach the interview process for the final paper.
Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment

13. 11/11

Discussion of Immanence and Transcendence and how this relates to art and creativity.  From readings in the Reader, and our other texts.   [about 1 hour]
The Ten Ox Herding Pictures, an artistic example of the spiritual, creative and therapeutic path. [1 hour]

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment

14.  11/18
Examples of the Creative Process and seeds of EXA in the arts
Presentation of van Gogh’s paintings and life as an example of creativity, and Immanence – Transcendence.
Presentation of Frida Kahlo’s art as an example of painting one’s own reality, shadow and relationship to death as a means of healing emotionally and spiritually.

Readings and Assignment for our next class:
Arts assignment

15. 12/2
During this class, each person will present a two-minute arts piece of their view of EXA and/or their budding concept of themselves as EXA therapists. We will also discuss our interviews and learn about more approaches to the practice of EXA.


Arts Assignment:


After each class, create an artistic response in any modality or combination of modalities. You can create more than one if you are inspired. You may use these in your autobiography. If you do not include them in your autobiography, please submit them in a separate section with your final assignment, (submit photos of images, audio or video presentations and/or description of your process).

This is called an expressive artistic response.  Please keep the power of play alive.  For example, you paint, draw, work with clay, collage, dance, make music, sing, create poetry or write creatively, enact an image, dream or character, role-play or some combination of the arts modality.  You may also want to create an artistic response to the class material, readings or your own life issues.

II. Arts Assignment #2 (Reflective Arts Presentation):

Using any modality or weaving of modalities, create an image of yourself as an expressive arts therapist or your image of the field of EXA.  You will share this in class on April 1st. Each person will have 2 minutes to present this arts project and 2 minutes for a class response. You total time is 5 minutes.
Guidelines for the arts presentation:

Let it flow from your work in the class and your arts journal.

Pick favorite modality or a combination to explore one of these themes:

Self as EXA therapist

Image of the field on the whole

What you might like to pursue with EXA (e.g. ecology, diversity, gender issues, trauma, body issues)


Actual presentation is only 2 minutes with 2 minutes for group feedback. You will select a timer to help with Father Time. You will have 5 minutes total per person


Please have a one-page description of your presentation to give to Kate as summary and reflection of your work.


Arts and Written Assignments


Autobiographical written reflection of student’s relationship to the arts, spiritual, cultural, creative and psychological themes presented in this class and will be developed further in the program.  Include one example of the non-dual



Interview an EXA therapist:

Interview an Expressive Arts Therapist and discuss his/her approach. Integrate the class experiences, discussions, and readings in your discussion. Include these various themes both during the interview with the EXA therapist, and when presenting your thoughts on their work:
1. Background and training as an EXA therapist.
2. Her/his definition of EXA.
3. Modalities used.
4. Weaving of modalities.
5. Current work as EXA therapist.
6. Recommendations to future EXA therapists in terms of training,
experience, and personal process.

After your experience, write an integrative paper weaving the therapist’s responses, your impressions, class readings and discussions into a reflective paper about the practice of EXA.

Suggestions for selecting an interview therapist:
Before reviewing binder ask yourself these questions about the type of therapist you would like to interview:

What is the Orientation I am most interested in learning about?

What Modalities am I most interested in understanding in terms of the practice of EXA?

What Issues am I most interested in exploring?

Am I interested in her/his Approach to EXA?


Be sure to have 3-5 names to call as scheduling and location may determine the actual person you interview. Please attempt to form groups for the interviews if you are interviewing the same therapist.
Please note:

Kate will assist you in locating an Expressive Arts Therapist for your interview.

There are binders in the EXA office: one for supervisors and four for therapists (separated by geography). These binders will help you with your selection.

Our staff can point them out to you.


5-10 pages typed, double-spaced and please include references to readings and class discussion in the text of the paper. Please USE APA REFERENCE STYLE. (YOU CAN FIND THIS IN THE STUDENT MANUAL AND IN THE APA REFERENCE MANUAL). I’d like to include your interviews in our binders for other students who might want to learn more about this therapist.  If you feel comfortable with this, please submit two copies. Thank you!


Suggested Readings:

Arieti, S. (1976) Creativity: The Magic Synthesis, New York: Basic Books

Edwards, B.  (1979) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Los Angeles:
J.P. Tarcher, Inc.

Edwards, B.  (1986) Drawing on the Artist Within, New York: Simon and Schuster

Goleman, D., Kaufman, P., and Ray, M.  (1992) The Creative Spirit,
New York: plume Books

Ghiselen, B. (ed.)  (1952) The Creative Process, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press

Haley, J.  (1986) Uncommon Therapy: The Psychiatric Techniques of Milton
H. Erickson, M.D., New York: Will Norton & Co.

Hopcke, R.H.  (1992) A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung,
Boston: Shambhala Books

Hyde, L.  (1983) The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property,
New York: Grove Press

Jaffe, A. (ed.) (1979) C. G. Jung: Word and Image, Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press

Jaffe, A.  (1984) The Myth of Meaning in the Work of C.G. Jung, Zurich,
Switzerland:  Daimon

Jung, C.G.  (1933) Modern Man in Search of a Soul, New York: Harcourt
Brace – World, Inc.

Khalighi, D.H.  (1990) The Creative Expression Method, (through author)

Leonard, L.S.  (1990) Witness to the Fire: Creativity and the Veil of Addiction,
Boston: Shambhala Books

Levine, S.K. (1992) Poiesis, Toronto, Canada: Palmerston Press

May, R.  (1975) The Courage to Create, New York: W.W. Norton

Menakak, S.  (1982) Otto Rank: A Rediscovered Legacy, New York:
Columbia University Press

Miller, A.  (1990) The Untouched Key: Tracking Childhood Trauma in
Creativity and Destructiveness, New York: Boston Doubleday Dell Publishing
Group, Inc.

Moustakas, C.  (1967) Creativity and Conformity, New York: Van Nostrand
and Reinhold Company

Neuman, E.  (1979) Creative Man, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Neuman, E.  (1959) Art and the Creative Unconscious, Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press

O’ Brien, M. and Little, C. Leds  (1988) Reimaging America: The Arts of Social
Change, Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers

Rank, O.  (1932) Art and the Artist: The Creative Urge and Personality Development,
New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Robbins, LB  (1985) Waking Up in the Age of Creativity, Santa Fe, N.M.: Bear and Co. Books

Rothenberg, A.  (1988) The Creative Process of Psychotherapy, New York: W.W. Norton and Company

Shlain, L.  (1991) Arts and Physics, New York: William Morrow and Co., Inc.

Van Dech, R.  (1971) A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative, New York: Warner Books
Winnicott, D.W.  (1971) Playing and Reality, New York: Harmondsworth

Willings, D.  (1986) The Creatively Gifted, Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Psychology Publishing Company

Chodorow, Joan. (1991). Dance therapy and depth psychology: The moving
imagination.  New York: Routledge.

_________. (Ed.). (1997). Jung on active imagination. Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton   University Press.