IEATA Interviews: CELA

In-between snow storms, I interviewed Roselle O’Brien, LMHC, REAT, Director of CELA – The Center for English Language & Creative Arts.


Dr. Roxie: What is your vision for CELA?

Roselle: In the broadest sense, CELA’s mission is to offer educational and support services to enhance personal growth, promote healing, and transform lives. The vision for the certification programs is multi-layered. I wanted to create a program that was accessible financially and academically for students. Too many times dreams for career directions and personal dreams get de-railed by tuition costs and expenses that many people can’t afford. Accessible also means do-able–for people who may be working full time, be raising families. We–all of us–have many demands on our resources: time, energy, wallet. My vision for CELA and the certification programs, bottom line, is providing an opportunity and the necessary supports for people to not only acquire training they may want and need, but also to successfully complete the program and be empowered to move their lives in the direction they want while inspiring and supporting others through the creative arts.

Dr. Roxie: Is your program open to the public as well as students?

Roselle: Oh, yes. You don’t have to be enrolled in a certification program to take classes.

Dr. Roxie: What are your training programs, their levels, and lengths of time?

Roselle: The first important thing is that CELA’s programs are online. All of the courses are offered online through CELA–and we do accept transfer credits for classes. It’s truly an international program. You can take it from wherever you live. Supervision for the internships are provided virtually, by telephone, email, in-person, and in combinations.

CELA offers two levels of certification: Intermodal Creative Arts Facilitator (ICAF) and Intermodal Creative Arts Therapist (ICAT). The main difference between the two programs is that the ICAF– Facilitator level–is for educators, facilitators, artists, and professionals  who would like to use Creative Arts Therapy approaches in their work. Facilitators are not therapists but are trained in understanding and working with their arts areas and the therapeutic effects and benefits many people experience through the creative arts. The ICAT–Therapist level–is Creative Arts Therapy training for therapists and requires the student to have independent licensure in their state or where they live, prior to enrolling in the program. The independent licensure could be as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist, Nurse, Psychologist. The training components for both programs include general education coursework, arts area coursework, required reading, and the supervised internship.

Dr. Roxie: Tell me more about the creative arts and how they fit in your programs.

Roselle: The certification programs are both intermodal–which means each student chooses a primary arts area and two additional, secondary, arts areas within which they will focus their work and studies. One student may choose visual arts for their primary arts area and music and language arts for their secondary arts areas. Another student may choose music for their primary arts area and culinary arts and dance and movement for their secondary arts areas. The students focus their internship work on their three chosen arts areas, moving among them in the work they do with their clients. Their supervisor supports their learning. We’ve been very successful at matching up students and their arts areas with supervisors whose work and experience share those creative arts areas.

Dr. Roxie: How long does it take to complete the program?

Roselle: The length of time it takes to finish a certification program depends on what transfer credits, if any, a student many have when they begin. The CELA review process is highly individualized. For example, within the field of nursing there are different levels of training for an RN. An RN could have gone to a hospital school, could have an Associates Degree, or a Bachelor’s, or a Master’s. The prerequisite for ICAT is for the candidate to have independent licensure prior to applying. We really examine closely the training, the completed coursework if any, and the work experiences of each applicant to make a determination.

The CELA school year is divided into four 10-week sessions. It starts on or about September 1st of each calendar year and runs through June of each year. If a student began the certification program with no transfer credits it would take one academic year full-time, (which is four classes per session,) September through June, to complete the required coursework. And then it would take an additional 6-8 months to complete the internship–but that’s based on doing 20 hours per week for the internship. It can take less time if a student spends more hours per week at their internship (if, for example, their internship site is also where they work.) The internship could definitely be completed in less time than the 6-8 months. Everything is all about the student, their schedule, their needs.

Dr. Roxie: How much do your programs cost to complete?

Roselle: The program costs for someone with more approved transfer credits will be less than for someone with fewer or no approved transfer credits. If someone were to begin a certification program with no transfer credits at all, the total cost for the certification program including the supervision for their internship, is $4,300.00. That doesn’t include  books.

Dr. Roxie: Are you open to new mentoring opportunities?

Roselle: Yes.

Dr. Roxie: Are you interested in social media outreach?

Roselle: Absolutely! Those are the communication platforms that reach the most people. You have to go to the places where people connect and join in the conversations!

Dr. Roxie: Is there anything else you would like to include for the blog or any suggestions for the IEATA Committee for Educational Resources?

Roselle: I think it’s huge having the information that Educational Resources and the other Committees present on IEATA’s website. I remember, when I first discovered IEATA, going to the website to learn more about the organization and the people who are involved. I read through everything, but especially lingered on the information provided by Educational Resources (and the Artists’ Gallery.) It’s a wonderful service you provide and more people and agencies need to take advantage of the connections and the opportunities.