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Expressive Therapies

Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Drama Therapy

Master of Arts (MA), on-campus or low-residency graduate program

Give others the tools and techniques to explore new roles and relationships.

Develop an understanding of how 
the intentional use of improvisation, storytelling, role-play, performance, and other dramatic action methods can communicate inner experience, strengthen relationships, and promote well-being.

Prepare to qualify to become a licensed mental health counselor by learning from leaders in the fields of drama therapy, psychodrama, and expressive therapies. Pursue careers in a variety of settings, including schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, community organizations, correctional facilities, and private practice.

REGISTER: MA in Expressive Therapies Virtual Information Session

As a drama therapy student, you’ll promote spontaneity and creativity in relationships and combine the study and application of dramatic action techniques with a trauma-informed, culturally responsive approach to mental health counseling. Through theory and practice, explore and examine issues of form, aesthetics, and principles central to performance. You'll come to understand the use of creativity in healing from a broader perspective as you master your chosen specialization as well as learn from others. Learn how to assess clients of all ages and backgrounds and select the most appropriate treatment approach. 


Graduate Program Inquiry Form

Program Structure

3-Year Program, Full-Time; On-Campus or Low-Residency Formats

60 Credits

Program Goals and Learning Statement

Learn more about the expected program goals that our Expressive Therapies master's degree programs meet.

  • Program Goals

    The goal of the Expressive Therapies master’s degree programs is to provide students the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to practice in a range of professional settings, including health care facilities, schools, community agencies, and private practices. The Expressive Therapies 60-credit programs meet the academic and field training requirements for mental health counselor licensure (LMHC) in Massachusetts. (Students intending to work outside of Massachusetts are advised to review their state's regulations to determine their eligibility for licensure.) Specialization tracks prepare graduates for certification or registration by their respective professional associations.  

    The Expressive Therapies faculty established these program goals. Aligned with the mission of Lesley and the Graduate School of Arts & Social Sciences, they are also specific to the Graduate Expressive Therapies Department, with deep consideration of our program’s history and the contemporary landscape of expressive therapies and mental health counseling.

    1. Dual Identity as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Expressive Therapist 

    Students will demonstrate a dual identity as a clinical mental health counselor and expressive therapist, and an understanding of the ways in which the professions enhance and complement one another. 

    2. Professional Orientation and Ethics 

    Students will demonstrate an understanding of the counseling profession and their modality profession. Students will demonstrate the capacity to provide counseling services within the ethical codes of the counseling profession and their modality specializations, and with an understanding of legal issues. 

    3. Clinical Mental Health Counseling Theory 

    Students will gain substantial knowledge of core counseling theories as applied to individual and group processes, skills, and approaches. 

    4. Human Development Across the Lifespan 

    Students will assess and cultivate an understanding of human growth and development throughout the lifespan, including an understanding of arts-based development, and the connection between developmental theory, clinical issues. Students will be able to design interventions, as well as apply considerations of environmental, biological, and cultural factors. 

    5. Clinical Skills and Helping Relationships 

    Students will demonstrate counseling skills and techniques which exhibit awareness of self and other in the therapeutic relationship. Students will demonstrate the ability to document and evaluate progress towards treatment goals.  

    6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

    Students will develop a critical multicultural lens of the sociocultural foundations in the counseling and expressive therapy process, including developing an awareness and knowledge of power, privilege, and oppression at the micro, macro, personal, and interpersonal levels. Students will develop strategies to identify and eliminate cultural barriers, prejudice, and discriminatory practices.  

    7. Career Development 

    Students will demonstrate knowledge of vocational counseling theory and apply career development methods to individual professional development. 

    8. Group Process in Counseling and Expressive Therapies 

    Students will develop a theoretical and embodied understanding of group process and dynamics, theory, skill, and approaches. 

    9. Assessment 

    Students will gain knowledge and skills in understanding and utilizing formal assessment instruments and information gathering techniques, used in case conceptualization, treatment planning. Students will also be able to analyze and critique assessment tools regarding ethical usage and multicultural competency.  

    10. Research and Program Evaluation 

    Students will develop the ability to locate, read, critique, and evaluate research to inform clinical practice. Through this activity, students will contribute knowledge to the profession of counseling and their modality specializations. 

    11. Psycho-diagnostics and Treatment 

    Students will gain an understanding of the broad spectrum of psychopathology and diagnostic criteria utilized in the current DSM 5 and ICD 10 to inform ethical clinical practice and evaluation within a diverse context. 

    12. Trauma and Crisis Intervention 

     Students will demonstrate trauma-informed skills within clinical practice, including knowledge of crisis intervention, and risk and suicide assessment. Students will understand current research and application in how the arts are used in trauma-informed practice, including individual, community, cultural, and systemic complex trauma across the lifespan. 

    13. Embodied, Experiential and Creative Clinical Practices 

    Students will be able to articulate, embody, and apply the transformative nature of creativity and the arts intrapersonally, interpersonally, and clinically, demonstrating the integration of knowledge and skills within practice.   

    14. Mental Health and Community Systems 

    Students will demonstrate knowledge and apply skills associated with working in diverse communities and multi-disciplinary teams. Students will critically analyze methods of treatment, referral, and interdisciplinary collaboration from a global health perspective.  

    15. Personal Growth, Insight, and Congruence 

    Students will develop and engage in multifaceted processes which foster self-awareness, and awareness of others’ experiences with cultural sensitivity. Students will develop and begin to articulate and evidence, in their scholarship and clinical practices, their theoretical orientation.   

    Students take courses in a scheduled sequence, where learning takes place in increments that align with their emerging competencies as clinicians. Following the program's course sequence ensures that students build upon knowledge and skills in a manner that maximizes their learning efforts, and that is appropriate and supportive, as they begin to practice in the field. 

man walking in harvard square, cambridge

Cambridge, MA

A nexus for higher education and mental health counseling practice and research, each year 250,000 students arrive to Cambridge from around the globe. The intellectual and cultural capital runs deep, and so do your opportunities addressing barriers to wellness. From Lesley’s location, access innovative community, hospital, and school-based mental health programs.

Students in an arc, chatting on Lesley's lawn.

On-Campus Option

Become part of a community of artists and scholars in Cambridge while pursuing your degree. Gain in-person access to leaders in the field and benefit from Lesley’s professional network in and around Greater Boston and New England. Taking three to four courses per semester, immerse in rigorous study and complete your program within a three year sequence.

Best if you:

  • Live near Cambridge or are able to relocate
  • Enjoy the rigor of an intensive program and want to take advantage of internships in Greater Boston
  • Want face-to-face time with faculty and peers and to become integrated into campus life
  • Are not planning to work full-time during your studies
close up of hand drawing a mandela

Low-Residency Option

Participate in one 3-week summer residency per year on Lesley University’s Cambridge campus. Between residencies, continue your studies online with Lesley faculty and through supervised field experiences in your community. Your courses correspond with those of our on-campus program, and will be completed within three years.

Best if you:

  • Live at a distance
  • Enjoy the flexibility of online learning
  • Want to take fewer courses at a time
  • Would like to complete internships/research in your community

Lesley is not currently enrolling low-residency students who reside in Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, or Wisconsin. 

Licensure Information

Depending on your professional goals, where you reside or plan to practice, and the licensure requirements within that state, there are different pathways toward licensure or credentialing that may be relevant. In accordance with Lesley University’s institutional participation in SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) and with federal regulations, we strongly encourage prospective applicants who intend to pursue licensure in a state other than Massachusetts to visit the Lesley University Licensure and Credentialing webpage and review the “Licensure Information for Students and Applicants” document for their specific program.

Counselors, therapists, and other mental health practitioners were trained at Lesley University in the last 5 years, making us the largest provider of training for licensed mental health counselors in New England.
Massachusetts is the best state in the nation for mental health care according to Mental Health America, with excellent access to care for both youth and adults.
Careers in mental health counseling are expanding, with projections for a 22% increase in job openings from 2018 to 2028. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Jobs You Could Have
The field of mental health counseling is expanding rapidly, making this an exciting time to pursue graduate study. Common job titles for people with master's degrees in drama therapy include:
Where Graduates Work
Massachusetts and Greater Boston have a large concentration of medical, healthcare, and mental health-related organizations. Graduates find careers in a range of places, including:


Total approximate cost for this master's degree program.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Drama Therapy
  • Tuition
    $1,300/credit x 60
  • Fees
    Field Experience Fees
    Mental Health Field Placement and Licensure Software Subscription
    Comprehensive Fee
  • Total
Estimated Cost

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.

  • Tuition
    $1,300/credit x 60
  • Fees
    Field Experience Fees
    Mental Health Field Placement and Licensure Software Subscription
    Comprehensive Fee
  • Total
Estimated Cost

All graduate students are reviewed for merit scholarships through the admissions process and are awarded at the time of acceptance. Other forms of financial aid are also available. Review all graduate tuition and fees, and what they cover. Tuition and fees are subject to change each year, effective in the Summer term.

Apply Now

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.

Total approximate cost for this master's degree program. Tuition and fees are for the 2023–2024 academic year.
Use our step-by-step guide to apply for federal and university funding. Scholarships, grants, Work-Study, and loans. It’s all right here.

Next steps to apply

Ready to get started? We're here to make the application process as smooth as possible. Just answer a few quick questions, and get your customized application guide.