Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy

Whitecliffe Arts Therapy graduates can combine their passions for creativity and for working with others to enhance well-being.

They develop the confidence to contribute to this dynamic, emerging field, harnessing their own experience and interests to pioneer new frontiers in this rapidly expanding profession.

Key dates

Applications for 2021 due 01 • 10 • 20
Feb 2021 Intake - Auckland 20 • 02 • 21
Feb 2021 Intake - Christchurch 13 • 02 • 21

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1 year, full-time in Auckland + Christchurch


Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy (Level 8) 120 credits


2021 Domestic $9,225 + $300 Student Services Levy
2021 International $27,000 + $300 Student Services Levy
Fees free applies
All 2021 fees are subject to change and regulatory approval

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Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy Course Outline

Creative expression can have a significant impact on the healing process for all people including those experiencing trauma, addictions, and psychological or emotional issues. Arts Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilises creative modalities including visual arts-making, drama, dance/movement, creative writing, and nature/connected arts within a therapeutic relationship to improved and inform physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Arts Therapy differs from traditional art-making or performance in that the emphasis expands to include attention to the processes of creating and meaning-making. The arts therapist develops a therapeutic relationship with their client/s with clear boundaries, treatment plans, and outcomes to assist them in this healing process. Arts therapists can work effectively with individuals and groups.

The Whitecliffe Arts Therapy Approach

The Whitecliffe programme offers a spectrum of approaches to Arts Therapy, stretching between two poles:

  1. 'The Arts as Therapy', follows the philosophy that participation in creative activities is universally beneficial, and that engagement with any of the arts at any level of proficiency can have a healing effect.
  2. 'The Arts in Therapy', or arts psychotherapy, which involves using the arts within the psychotherapeutic relationship as a powerful mode of expression and agent of change.

Students will gain an understanding of how an arts therapist can work along this spectrum, taking into account the population they are working with as well as a range of other factors.

It is a highly innovative programme offering a variety of creative arts modalities. Applicants are expected to be comfortable or familiar with at least one of these when entering the programme, and to achieve a basic grounding in the other creative modalities during the programme. The programme supports students to develop culturally sensitive practices responsive to the Māori worldview as well as other cultures.

Arts Therapy Studio

Programme Overview

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Therapy (PGDipAT), is a one-year full-time programme that offers an introduction to the foundational philosophy, skills, and theories relating to the creative arts therapies. The Diploma is offered in two locations, Auckland and Christchurch, and is scheduled for ten weekends - one per month February to November - in each location. This introduction operates as a stand-alone qualification equipping students to take skills into the workplace for those working in a related field. The Diploma is also the pre-requisite for progression into the Master's qualification. Progression requirements include assessment of a student's suitability for clinical practice and academic ability to undertake Level 9 research.

  • One-year full-time (blended delivery, low-residency)
  • Creative Studio
  • Social Aspects of Arts Therapy
  • Psychology of Arts Therapy
  • Group Arts Therapy
Arts Therapy Studio

Low-residency Programme

The Postgraduate Diploma of Arts Therapy and Master of Arts in Arts Therapy (clinical) are low-residency courses of study to provide flexibility for students in the workplace and/or travelling to study.

The Postgraduate Diploma is offered in two locations, Auckland and Christchurch, and is scheduled for ten weekends - one per month February to November - in each location. The Postgraduate Diploma offers an introduction to the foundation philosophy, skills and theories relating to the creative arts therapies in readiness for taking skills into the workplace for those working in a related field as a stand-alone qualification, or can provide the pre-requisite for application for progression onto the Masters qualification.

Progressions requirements include assessment of a student’s suitability for clinical practice and academic ability to undertake level 9 research.

The Masters programme is currently offered in Auckland only. The seminar delivery pattern is four intensive seminars per year for two years.

Arts Therapy Studio

Key Information for Students

NZ Government key information link for students, that provides more information to support your decision making for this programme

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Where could this programme take you?

Many of our graduates have been employed by their clinical placements after completion of the course such as special schools, prison rehabilitation, drug and alcohol services, school counselling, trauma services, disability services, community mental health settings. Graduates of the Whitecliffe Arts Therapy programme are instrumental in extending the field’s reach into new applications. Graduates of MAAT (clinical) are eligible to become professional members of the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapy Association. Professional members with suitable background and experience are able to go into private practice and apply for registration to be a counsellor for ACC, provide counselling through the WINZ Disability Allowance Scheme and register for programmes such as the “I Am Hope” free counselling scheme for youth

Jobs related to this programme

Mental Health Facilities

Education Facilities

Community Services

Prison Rehabilitation

Drug and Alcohol Services

School Counselling

Trauma Services

Disability Services

Private Practice

Community Mental Health Settings

Find out more about career opportunities

Talk to our team

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If you would like to ask us a question or request more information, please detail your enquiry using the form below. If you would like you can contact us directly on 0800 800 300, email us or use the contact us form.

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Apply online today to study at New Zealand's leading private Arts, Design Fashion and Technology school, producing the highest quality graduates and shaping exceptional creative citizens.