Heather MacLeod, Director of Education at CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Training

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Heather MacLeod, Director of Education at the CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts & Addictions Training in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Here’s what she had to share with IEATA Educational Resources.

1. What is your Institute’s vision?

The vision for the institute began with a recognition of the need for an  integration of traditional approaches to addictions counselling with therapeutic and expressive arts. Over the past year as the idea has grown and developed, my intention was always to make the program accessible to any motivated learner, from anywhere in the world. CTAAT offers the Clinical Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Postgraduate Diploma (CTAAPD) program which prepares students to write the Certification Exam required by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation requirements toward becoming a registered a Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor (CCAC). The CTAAT diploma program is unique in the ways a strong addictions counselling foundation is integrated with a focus on therapeutic expressive art in clinical practice. Individuals who are already credentialed or experienced as counsellors, psychotherapists, social workers and other relevant disciplines are invited to take the Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Certificate (TAAC) program. Our programs are fully online. Distance learning, and the removal of barriers that limit access to education, is a cornerstone of the vision for the school. Throughout the entire diploma program, and in each course designed and delivered, art-making and sharing are active components. The CTAAT Digital Learning Centre is well designed and student feedback has been extremely positive.  

2. Is your programming open to the public as well as students?

One of the limitations to the way this school functions is the requirement by the government’s Ministry of Advanced Education that ALL courses be delivered fully online. So in terms of an open door policy, there is no brick and mortar setting. Having said that, we are also in the process of setting up our telehealth services in a virtual clinic setting. These services will be available to the public. I expect over the next 1-2 years – if things go as I hope they do – a physical space with a flexible approach to the public will be possible. I expect this will come through services offered by the clinic which we also hope may serve as a practicum setting for some students completing the diploma program.

 3. What are your training programs levels and certification.

We offer the unique Clinical Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Postgraduate Diploma (CTAAPD) program which prepares students for several possibilities in terms of registration as therapists or counsellors. As I mentioned, the diploma program is a combination of coursework where students are learning by doing. In addition, we support practicum hours with supervision and prepare students to write the Certification Exam required by the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation to qualify as a registered a Canadian Certified Addictions Counsellor (CCAC), Graduates of the diploma may also apply for Associate membership with the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA), and hopefully (at minimum) eligibility for membership as a Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator (REACE) with IEATA. Our program is also a pathway to qualify to write the exam and satisfy requirements for membership as a Registered Professional Counsellor with the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association. Professionals already working in the field are invited to complete the Therapeutic Arts and Addictions Certificate (TAAC) program. TAAC is offered in two levels, both levels with 4 courses each. They are the TAAC Foundations Certificate, followed by the Advanced Certificate. Completion of the TAAC program will hopefully prepares graduates for both the CATA and IEATA memberships described above.

 4. About how many students go through your programs?

Currently we have capped admission at 50 students per year for the Diploma Program, and the Certificate Program is more flexible. We have an open registration policy with flexible start dates as opposed to study organized by fixed semesters.

 6. What kinds of space do you have; is it outdoors as well as indoors?

As mentioned above, currently the ‘space’ is determined by the student. However, in addition to art-making that takes place in weekly digital classrooms (made possible by technology), there are weekly art-making processes and activities. This often means exploring outdoor spaces and organic materials, especially when environmental art-making is included in the course. It is a priority to keep the learning activities grounded in the communities students are either working in now, or hope to work in and with in the future.

7. Do you have any suggestions for the IEATA Committee for Educational Resources?

The challenge of developing educational resources can be complicated. I love the idea of electronically linking a searchable database of resources, however the question of copywrite, maintaining active and viable links etc., makes it a huge undertaking. It may be simpler to maintain an active resource related to workshops, conferences, schools and programs, each of which will provide specific resources of interest to those who engage, register or attend. As an FYI, I’m also very interested in Research possibilities.

For more information about CTAAT – The Centre for Therapeutic Arts &

Addictions Training, please visit: www.ctaat.ca