Experience the healing power of art.

 Art Therapy majors at Mercyhurst investigate the healing potential of the arts through self-reflective art directives, research and service learning in the community. In art therapy classes, students experience the healing nature of art making during discussions that focus on the history and development of the field, the therapeutic use of art media, and ways to help others through art. Students’ development of a non-judgmental approach toward art made by themselves and others enables an ability to support the use of art as a way to promote creativity and wellness. Graduates of the program often work in the human service field or pursue graduate school for art therapy.

Fast Facts

  • In 2016, Mercyhurst’s program was ranked as one of the top undergraduate art therapy programs in the nation, according to Best Counseling Degrees, making Mercyhurst’s the only program in Erie County to be recognizedStudents have the opportunity to travel abroad and volunteer in art therapy related service learning experiences
  • Students have the opportunity to travel abroad and volunteer in art therapy related service learning experiences
  • The Mercyhurst Art Therapy Club allows majors to get to know each other outside of classes and get involved in campus activities

  • Students are required to take courses in art, art therapy, psychology, and sociology, building the abilities needed to support the use of art as a way to help others

  • Focus solely on Art Therapy or add an additional major or minor in related art programs such as Art Education, Photography, Graphic Design or Studio Art

  • Students have the opportunity and have presented at regional and national art therapy conferences supporting professional development.

In The Classroom

The Mercyhurst University Department of Art teamed up with the Erie Zoo for an “ExZOOberant Paint Party” in our art studio. The Jungle Crayon Fence surrounds the children’s play area as a memorable and fun piece of personality in the nearby Erie Zoo. Students and faculty from the Department of Art led the initiative to host a painting party to give new life to this iconic fence in the zoo area. The entire Mercyhurst community was invited to join in the fun, with students, faculty, and staff helping paint more than 85 crayons with unique designs and names that all adhered to an animal theme. Mercyhurst’s Department of Art students love opportunities to be creative in the Erie community, especially the chance to work on unique displays like the Jungle Crayon Fence!

paint party
art therapy project


Art Therapy students practice directives that allow them to understand the transformative nature of art, including hands-on experiences, studio work, and portfolio pieces.

art therapy club


Our students participate in many different on-campus outreach opportunities through events with Art Therapy Club and wellness initiatives with Mercyhurst's Counseling Center.

art therapy mural


Participating in service through off-campus community engagement comes in many  different shapes and sizes, including public mural work and study abroad trips.

beyond the gates photo


Recent art program graduates traveled with faculty members to the Annual RedCan Graffiti Jam, which takes place on a Cheyenne River Lakota reservation in South Dakota.

redcan craft table


Art for wellness is practiced by our students in a variety of populations and locations, including our students manning the craft tables with young participants at RedCan Graffiti Jam.

art therapy mural


Art provides opportunities to engage across traditional barriers of cultures, languages, age, and race, providing a universal opportunity for artists and viewers alike to share in artwork.

alexis nader


Each art therapy major is required to complete an internship to provide them with experiential opportunities to facilitate art activities in the community and promote wellness through art. 

aata conference


Art Therapy students have the opportunity to present at a variety of professional art therapy conferences, allowing them to build upon both their presentation and networking skills. 

art therapy service


Whether students  take courses in graphic design, studio art, photography, or ceramics, they’ll do so in top-of-the-line facilities that give them the best art education possible.

Contact Us

Heather Denning, M.A., ATR-BC, ATCS, LSW
Program Director, Art Therapy
Office: Zurn 121A
Phone: 814-824-2212