The KATI program is a comprehensive and immersive training in art therapy, in which students’ transformative personal work cultivates an understanding of art therapy from lived experience and forms the foundation of their theoretical and clinical practice of art therapy.

KATI offers a comprehensive post-baccalaureate Diploma program in art therapy in two formats: campus and distance.

The program is a unique mix of rigorous theory, ecological awareness, and an emphasis on relationship as the core of therapeutic praxis.

A Message from KATI’s Founder and Academic Dean

Video by Louis Bockner

We would like to acknowledge that the land on which we meet is traditional, unceded Indigenous territory. We also want to express our deep and heartfelt appreciation for the wisdom and teachings that are shared with us by the indigenous peoples who come to KATI, helping us to learn the ways of respect and reciprocity for the land and all life

The Kutenai Art Therapy Institute is based on the belief that the creative process is both healing and life enhancing. We offer a comprehensive Diploma program that integrates art therapy theory, experiential studio work, clinical practice and research. We maintain a focus on training culturally sensitive and responsive art therapists. Our method of training emphasizes deep personal exploration through the process of art therapy and dream work.

The Institute takes an eclectic approach to theory including phenomenological hermeneutic methodology, psychodynamic theory, object relations, eco-psychology, feminism, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive and humanistic client-centered counseling. We have also expanded into the expressive arts, so that we now include a range of approaches to ground the art therapy practice, including elements of phototherapy, poetry therapy, as well as the more traditional visual arts, sculpture and construction. As a small Institute we can be creative and flexible in adapting and responsive to the training needs of our students.

Campus students have access to a variety of clinical placements in Nelson and the surrounding area. We provide the opportunity to work both independently as well as with a number of art therapists in different work environments. This gives a wide range of experience for the developing art therapist. Students have the unique opportunity of experiencing first hand issues concerning therapeutic boundaries and ethical practice within a small town and rural area. Distance students are mentored to find placements in their local communities, build relationships and explore the potential for future work in their areas.

We are very proud of our graduates, who are working in a wide range of different settings. These include schools, community services, transition houses, resources for seniors, First Nations agencies, Mental Health Services and the Ministry for Child and Family Development. Our graduates work with children, youth, adults and the elderly with a wide range of issues: trauma, illness, sexual abuse, witnessing violence, addictions, mental health, palliative care and dementia, to name a few. Several graduates have also initiated international art therapy projects for children in Peru, Cuba and Mexico.

The Kutenai Art Therapy Institute offers an excellent and somewhat unusual program with a rigorous and wide-ranging theoretical foundation and an equally wide-ranging experience of different techniques and client groups. We support students to be authentic in their therapeutic presence, skilled with a variety of populations, and experienced in a wide variety of environments.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching and deeply believe in the inherent value of the creative process. I am also deeply committed to art therapy research and students have commented with surprise that they find my enthusiasm contagious. I believe that one of the most exciting directions for the future of therapy is in the integration of clinical skills with creativity, the expressive arts and the environment. If you are planning to enter this new and exciting field and are looking for a community-based school to pursue an education in art therapy, come and see what we have to offer.


Monica Carpendale, BFA, DVATI, BCATR, RCAT
Founder & Academic Dean


Online Information Sessions

We offer Online Information Sessions in which you can meet and ask questions with KATI faculty and staff. This is an opportunity for anyone who is considering the Diploma program to meet KATI faculty, staff and alumni. The sessions are live and participants can ask questions.

Upcoming sessions are listed below. Click on the session of your choice to register.

Program Structure

The KATI art therapy training program is offered in two delivery formats:

  • Campus: a two-year cohort with local clinical placements, and

  • Distance: a three-year cohort with blended delivery including online sessions, on-site experiential course work, online theory courses, and clinical placements in home communities.

The program is composed of theoretical, clinical, experiential and research components based on the application of art to therapy which support a dynamic integration of theory and practice.

Theoretical course work is structured to cultivate an understanding of art therapy theory and research, psychopathology, theories of personality, clinical issues, ethics, therapeutic skills and boundaries, psychodynamic, phenomenological and humanistic theories.

Clinical course work includes clinical placements and supervision to develop workplace competencies. Extensive supervised clinical practice enables the student to integrate theory and clinical skills throughout the program. Students are required to complete 700 hours of clinical placement.

Experiential art therapy involves the experiential learning of theory and praxis in studio work as well as personal development in training group. Art therapy training groups provide an opportunity to personally practice and experience the art therapy process. Studio practice provides the opportunity for continuing creative explorations and the practice of clinical skills through dyad and triad work.

Research begins with research courses which focus on the study of qualitative research methods and the development of case studies. These courses prepare students to begin their thesis or capstone project which demonstrates the culmination of the student’s theoretical, clinical and therapeutic skills.

A Japanese Maple at Cottonwood Falls park - five minute walk from campus

A Japanese Maple at Cottonwood Falls park - five minute walk from campus

The KATI program integrates a relational approach to art therapy, with courses on cultural identity, symbolic interpretation, land-based healing and expressive therapy, together with clinical and community-based approaches to art therapy practice and research. Our location in Nelson, BC, a mountain town surrounded by wilderness, provides inspiration and opportunity to explore the natural world. Art therapy has the potential to increase emotional resiliency in the face of environmental change. We believe that creative expression of our relationship to the land is a key to personal and community wellness.

Training at KATI provides students with the ability to practice art therapy anywhere, on a spectrum ranging from clinical art psychotherapy to community-based art as therapy. KATI’s location allows us to offer students a unique opportunity to learn the specialized skills necessary to serve those living in similar communities. Our core focus is on training culturally sensitive and responsive art therapists.

Campus study at KATI offers the opportunity to live and experience the city of Nelson and the surrounding rural areas. In the heart of the Selkirk mountains and on the shores of Kootenay Lake, students will find an abundance of outdoor activities year-round. This unique location has attracted a community of artists, musicians, outdoor enthusiasts and entrepreneurs who contribute to a vibrant local culture.

Campus Cohort

Nelson, BC // Photo by Robert Neufeld

The campus cohort starts each year in September and ends in May. Students enjoy a break over the summer months, a two-week vacation in the winter and a reading break in the spring. Campus students participate in "Immersions" three times each year, during which they are in class every day of the week.

The school year starts with a three-week Immersion, in which students and faculty participate in group activities, art therapy practice and theory courses.

A regular week at KATI generally includes classes on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. Clinical placements in the community are on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. There is some flexibility around how placement hours are structured throughout the week. Students can expected about 14 hours of homework each week.

Campus Community

Campus students have many opportunities to be involved in art therapy workshops, evening events and conferences sponsored by KATI, to be included in an existing network of support, and to participate in the KATI community. Living in the same town also allows campus students to easily connect outside of school - connections often resulting in deep and lasting friendships.

The Kutenai Art Therapy Association receives community grants throughout the year, which offer further opportunities for student clinical placements. We currently offer Open Studios at KATI and the Salvation Army, an Arts-Based Environmental Citizenship Education program in schools, and weekly support groups for children and adults.

Distance Cohort


Distance students are welcomed into campus life each June/July during a three-week Immersion in Nelson, each year for three years. During these Immersions distance students participate in group activities, art therapy practice and theory courses.

The academic year continues in the student’s home community until the end of March. During this time students participate in weekly online supervision with a Registered Art Therapist at KATI, usually in a group dynamic with fellow classmates, and at times individually. Supervision groups are small so there is plenty of time to present materials from clinical placements. In group supervision, students benefit in learning from their peers’ therapeutic experiences as well as their own. Online theoretical courses and clinical placements continue throughout the year.

In the Groundwater workshop, offered in the first week of the first-year distance Immersion, students are introduced to Indigenous methods of art therapy research and practice, with a focus on land-based healing, community-building and experiential course work.

While this is a full-time program, some students may also work part-time while completing the KATI program. In addition to online course and clinical placement time, students have about 14 hours of homework per week.

Distance Community

Although distance learning is done in home communities, KATI strives to keep students connected. Lasting friendships develop as students work on assignments, readings, supervision, placements, research and their own personal art therapy process. When distance students are on campus they are encouraged to participate in evening and weekend events within the community.

Students also have onsite supervisors in their placement setting to oversee and support the logistics of the clinical placement. Whenever possible, students also have the opportunity to work with professional art therapists onsite.

Distance students are required to find their own placements but are not required to find their own Registered Art Therapist as a supervisor. The Institute provides students with a supervisor.

Groundwater Initiative


Groundwater is a KATI Initiative advocating for Indigenous-centered art therapy education with a commitment to the ongoing processes of decolonization and reconciliation. Groundwater grew naturally out of KATI’s relationships with Indigenous Elders and knowledge-keepers and the fact that 15-20% percent of KATI’s alumni have Indigenous backgrounds. KATI’s approach to learning and research has been informed by Indigenous students and is responsive to their suggestions and needs. One of KATI’s core values is to train culturally responsive and sensitive art therapists with a grounding in symbolic interpretation, cultural studies, land-based healing and eco-art therapy.

Groundwater recognizes the role of creativity and art in Indigenous approaches to healing, the ongoing traumatic and intergenerational impacts of colonialism, and the therapeutic value of our connections to the natural world. The Groundwater workshop is the first week of the distance cohort training program in June/July each year and may also be taken as a five-day stand-alone workshop open to the public.

KATI’s theoretical courses are currently being reviewed and revised to reflect the principles of the Groundwater Initiative, including further integration of Indigenous perspectives and methodologies.

Clinical Placements

The total amount of required placement time to complete the program is approximately 700 hours. The Canadian Art Therapy Association educational guidelines require that students have a minimum of 350 hours of direct client contact.

Breakdown of the 700 hours:

  • 350 hours of direct client services. (400 hours qualify a student for honours clinical placement/internship);

  • 350 hours of record keeping, consultation, organization of artwork and studio;

  • 80 hours of group supervision or 50 hours of individual supervision.

Clinical placements include five to ten hours of direct client contact each week, plus time for set up, clean up, and record keeping of the art and client notes.

Student clinical placements include local government and independent schools (elementary, middle and high school), seniors’ facilities, in-patient psychiatric hospital programs, educational programs for adults with special needs, residential tertiary-care facilities, community-based programs to support marginalized populations, and residential addiction recovery programs. Individual and group art therapy services are offered at KATI for children, youth and adults with issues ranging from loss and grief, physical illness (chronic and life threatening), trauma, impact of refugee experience, parental separation.


Supervision refers to a process or the work that takes place between an experienced art therapy supervisor and a graduate art therapy student/intern who is training as a therapist in an approved clinical placement setting. Supervisors at KATI are Registered Canadian Art Therapists. Supervision usually takes place in a weekly small group meeting but may also be supplemented with an individual consultation as needed. Guest supervisors are also invited to offer additional perspectives and approaches. Supervision includes:

  • Review of client art and clinical work;

  • Case review of clinical files, (includes intakes, progress notes, summary reports, treatment plans, termination);

  • Discussion of referrals, agency relationships,

  • Crisis intervention, limit setting, ethics;

  • Exploration of transference and countertransference dynamics as they pertain to clinical work;

  • Discussion of group work: designing, planning, setting goals and exploring issues and dynamics.

Graduation Requirements

Campus students are expected to complete their course work in two years, and distance students within three years. Students have the option of taking additional time to complete placement hours and thesis or capstone project requirements for an additional fee.

Completion of clinical placement and supervision hours is dependent on meeting core competencies identified on the Supervision evaluation forms. Interns are expected to meet the required skills and expectations prior to graduation.

Students are awarded a Diploma upon successful completion of all program requirements, including a thesis or capstone project. Visit our Research page to see previous thesis and capstone projects completed by KATI students.

Graduates are eligible (and encouraged) to apply as professional members of the Canadian Art Therapy Association and/or a provincial/regional art therapy association depending on where the graduate chooses to work.

Would you like to know more?