AcademicsGraduate AcademicsClinical Mental Health CounselingTranspersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling

Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA

Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling Concentration

Naropa’s Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling integrates transpersonal theory with a clinical approach to counseling. This concentration of our Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate degree program helps you—and your future clients—find healing through the transformative power of art. 

About this Concentration

The foundation of this concentration program is mindfulness meditation training, studio art, community-based service, and integration of transpersonal theory with clinical approaches to counseling.

Our clinically focused Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling program exists to prepare art-based counselors in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. 

Naropa’s CMHC concentration program in Art-Based Counseling is dedicated to developing socially engaged creative arts counselors. Students engage with the community through practicum and internship, offering art-based counseling services in a variety of clinical settings. The Naropa Community Art Studio (NCAS) teaches students how to design, create, and finance a community studio space to serve diverse groups of people. 

Being a counselor requires awareness of one’s own social context, and the social context of those we serve. Naropa’s Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling master’s program requires counselors-in-training to take courses with a social justice and multicultural approach.

Naropa’s award-winning Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling faculty are published authors, accomplished artists, and community innovators with extensive clinical experience.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling Concentration is a 3-year on-campus degree.

It consists of specific art-based counseling coursework combined with counseling and contemplative studies training to prepare competent entry-level counselors holistically.

Throughout the program, students also participate in 190 direct art contact hours of studio-based work. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. 

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Course Spotlight

Studio I: Inquiry, Process & Materials

Art-based research combined with contemplative practice is carefully integrated into the investigation of various art processes and materials throughout the semester. The open studio model is followed, allowing students to practice mindfulness through process painting, drawing, and sculpture projects.


The Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling Concentration is a 67.5-credit program. Besides completing regular coursework, students are required to complete a Counseling Practicum during their second year, to develop their counseling skills through fieldwork at a community agency with on-site supervision. During their third year, students will complete a 700-hour clinical field placement with on-site supervision.

Transpersonal Contemplative Art-based Counseling

  • CMHC 600, Foundations and Orientation of Clinical Mental Health Counseling (3)
  • CNSA 600, Orientation Seminar (0)
  • CNSA 604, Foundations of Transpersonal Art Therapy in Counseling (3)
  • CNST 622, Foundations of Mindfulness (2)
  • CNSA 634, History and Theory of Art Therapy (3)
  • CMHC 603, Counseling and Helping Relationships I (3)
  • CMHC 601, Social/Multicultural Foundations (3)
  • CNSA 664, Civic Engagement Studio Practicum (0.5)
  • CMHC 606, Legal and Ethical Aspects of Counseling (3)

Choose One of the following:

  • CNST 670, Transpersonal Counseling (3)
  • CNST 673, Jungian Approaches in Counseling (3)

First year, summer (Off, 0 credits)

  • CMHC 604, Counseling and Helping Relationships II (3)
  • CMHC 602, Human Growth and Development (3)
  • CMHC 605, Group Counseling (3)
  • CNSA 755, Art-based Counseling with Adult Populations (2)
  • CMHC 607, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning (3)
  • CMHC 620, Counseling Practicum (3)
  • CNSA 624, Studio I: Inquiry, Process & Materials (2)
  • CNSA 734, Art-based Counseling with Children & Adolescents (3)
  • CMHC 621, Initial Internship (2)
  • CMHC 609, Research & Program Evaluation (3)
  • CMHC 608, Assessment (3)
  • CMHC 615, Capstone I (1)
  • CMHC 622, Internship I (3)
  • CMHC 610, Career Development (3)
  • CMHC 623, Winter Intercession Internship (0)
  • CMHC 624, Internship II (3)
  • CMHC 616, Capstone II (1)
  • CNSA 834, Studio II: Inquiry, Process & Materials (1)
  • CNST 721, Cultivating Mindful Presence (2) 

Why Choose Naropa?

CAAHEP Accreditation

Naropa’s Art-Based Counseling program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) upon the recommendation of The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education.

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Agency Network

Naropa has an extensive network of human service agencies where students can carry out their practicum and field placements. In addition to acquiring real work experience and developing their skills, students can connect with professionals and institutions in the field.

Licensure Support

Naropa provides Credentialing and Licensure support to students who want to obtain licensure or credentialing to practice Clinical Mental Health Counseling, even post-graduation.

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How this Program Prepares You

Real-life professional experience

Practicums and field placements provide real-life scenarios in which students apply their knowledge and skills in a professional setting and capacity, allowing them to develop and improve their counseling abilities.

Transdisciplinary approach & skill set

As a transdisciplinary profession, art-based counseling involves intensive studies in the visual arts, the behavioral sciences, and the development of adept counseling skills. Students become culturally competent, clinically astute, socially engaged counselors, artists, and art therapists.

Comprehensive & multifaceted program

The program provides training grounded in rigorous academic work, the practices of critical thinking and contemplation, and the skillful application of effective clinical skills. As such, the program is well-rounded in all critical areas that pertain to the professional formation of art-based counselors.

What You'll Learn

Readiness for a Fulfilling Career

Find your calling as a licensed professional counselor or registered art therapist.


Develop moment-to-moment awareness for yourself and your future clients.

Community Involvement

Leverage the power of art-based counseling to meet the needs of diverse communities.

Diversity Awareness

Learn a justice-oriented approach to your role as a counselor.

Foundation in Studio Arts

Explore the benefits of art-based counseling in a studio setting.

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Career Opportunities for Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counselors

Alumni of this concentration program become art-based counselors and mental health clinicians who treat the whole person through a transpersonal, social justice lens. Build a fulfilling career that weaves your passion for studio art with your desire to help others.

Career opportunities for Transpersonal Contemplative Art-based Counseling graduates include: 

Hear from a Graduate

[A Transpersonal Contemplative Art-Based Counseling perspective] takes all information into account, even the data that we can’t define, even the things we don’t have words for, even the things that seem to only exist in felt sense, even the things that seem impossible; and that type of approach allows for healing that goes deeper than some approaches have ever dared to brave.

Elise Colley

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

FAQS about the
Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling Concentration

Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling has emerged from researched disciplines integrating established models of psychology with valuable understanding from spiritual disciplines and wisdom traditions, using art as a means to express feelings, emotions and thoughts. This transdisciplinary assimilation offers a comprehensive psychology model. The foundation of this concentration program is mindfulness meditation training, studio art, community-based service, and integration of transpersonal theory with clinical approaches to counseling. The program is a concentration of our Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA Degree.

This concentration is not available online; however, the Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling concentration has a low-residency option. In addition, Naropa offers an online BA program in Art Therapy

Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling benefits both individuals and communities. The benefits include self-reflection and self-awareness, improvement of self-esteem, confidence, interpersonal skills, and creativity. This type of counseling also enhances the connection between body and mind and helps clients develop healthy coping mechanisms and better interpersonal skills, among other things. It also reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It has a positive effect on both mental and physical health.

Transpersonal Contemplative Art–Based Counseling draws on a discipline with a well-documented history. It refers to a distinct approach that incorporates transpersonal psychology—an evolving, researched discipline that integrates established models of psychology with valuable understanding from spiritual disciplines and wisdom traditions—with the use of art and image to support the healing process. The term transpersonal encompasses a broad spectrum of practices that connect artistic self-expression with healing.

As a transdisciplinary profession, art-based counseling involves intensive studies in the visual arts, the behavioral sciences, and the development of adept counseling skills. Naropa’s innovative, experiential approach to training art therapists and counselors integrates transpersonal psychology with mindfulness meditation practice, the acquisition of refined clinical skills, and applied community-based studio methods. Our goal is for our students to become culturally aware, clinically astute, socially engaged counselors, artists, and art therapists.

This name change reflects our continued commitment to Naropa’s contemplative foundations, an ongoing engagement with the transformative power of art and image, and alignment with a core counseling focus, grounding our students with relevant, contemporary skills to creatively support the multiplicity of mental health needs in today’s world. Read more about the name change and redesigned curriculum.

Learn More About the Program

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with your counselor

Olivia Phipps

Graduate Admissions Counselor

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

As an institution founded on the values of academic excellence and contemplative practice, Naropa University values both academic performance and the willingness to carry out introspective work.

Learn more about admission requirements and the application process for this concentration. 

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To apply to the Transpersonal Contemplative Art-based Counseling concentration program, students must fulfill prerequisite work requirements in both Studio Art and Psychology.

Applications are submitted online, and applicants must provide a transcript of all undergraduate coursework, a copy of their art portfolio, a statement of interest, a resume, and two letters of interest as part of their online application. They may also apply for financial aid at this stage. If an applicant meets the qualifying criteria, they will be contacted for an interview day.

Learn more about admission requirements. 

Naropa welcomes international students! On top of regular admission requirements, we ask that students with undergraduate degrees from foreign universities provide some additional documentation. Discover admission requirements for international students. 

Costs and Financial Aid

Over 75% of Naropa’s graduate students receive federal or institutional aid to finance their costs. Visit our graduate costs & aids page to read through financial aid opportunities, grants, and scholarships you may be eligible for, plus the costs of tuition, housing, and other indirect costs. You can use our cost calculator to get an estimate of your expenses at Naropa.

Graduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to graduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our graduate scholarship page.

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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.