January 2, 2020


As most state legislatures prepare to begin their 2020 legislative sessions in January, we wanted to share some bills to watch this year and also recap the art therapy victories and advancements of 2019!

What were the top legislative victories or advancements for art therapy in 2019?


2019 was a successful year in the advancement of art therapy! We achieved independent licensure for art therapists in Connecticut and had art therapy legislation introduced in 13 states – a record for our 50th year!


Art therapists meet with legislators and staff and host Art Therapy Advocacy Day event at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford on February 13, 2019.


Of the 13 states with art therapy legislation, nine had licensure bills, two had insurance bills, and two had bills that made minor corrections in existing art therapy licenses. Three bills were enacted, including the Connecticut license and the corrections to existing licenses in Maryland (HB 1104) and Oregon (SB 29).

Eight licensure bills and one insurance bill will carry over into this year. Two New York bills (S3421A and A670A) to provide private insurance and Medicaid coverage for licensed mental health practitioners including Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, despite passing the legislature with broad support, “died” due to vetoes by the governor related to budget concerns. The New York Art Therapy Association is working with the bill sponsors to support similar legislation this year and also to explore other avenues to acquire reimbursement administratively.

Additionally sunrise reviews by state departments or agencies with favorable final reports to the legislature supporting licensure of art therapists were released in Connecticut and Virginia, and the sunrise review in Nebraska is underway.

What art therapy bills were introduced in 2019 that carry over into 2020?


State legislative calendars can be confusing to follow as they vary so much from state to state! For example, most states hold elections on even years and start their two-year legislative sessions on odd years (while Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia do it the other way around); most states meet annually, except for the four that only meet every-other year on odd years, (these include Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas); while most states meet for a designated portion of the year when the session is open, nine state legislatures meet throughout the year; additionally, special sessions can be called by a state’s governor or legislature over a specific issue during or after a regular session. With all this variation, it’s easy to get lost, so we broke down what you need to know about active art therapy legislation!


Art therapists and supporters of art therapy gather on December 19, 2019 at the John Wilson Building in Washington, DC for a Committee on Health and Committee of the Whole public hearing.


State art therapy licensure bills that were introduced in 2019 and carry over into the 2020 sessions:

District of Columbia B23-250, which would create a Professional Art Therapist license under the Board of Professional Counseling, was introduced by Washington D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson on April 2, 2019 with three key cosponsors who are on the Committee on Health. Seven witnesses testified to the benefits of art therapy before Committee on Health and Committee of the Whole on December 19, 2019. Watch their testimonies as well as the supportive testimony from the executive witness from the Health Regulation Licensing Administration at the District of Columbia Department of Health.


IowaHF 362, which would create a Clinical Art Therapy license under the Board of Behavioral Science, was introduced by Representative Mary Mascher on February 13, 2019. The Iowa legislature meets from January 13, 2020 – April 21, 2020.

NebraskaLB 422, was introduced by Senator Sara Howard on January 18, 2019. While the Nebraska Art Therapy Licensure Coalition undergoes the sunrise review process through the Department of Health and Human Services, this bill was introduced to familiarize the legislature with the effort. It would create credentialing of art therapists as Licensed Mental Health practitioners with associated certification as Art Therapists. Art therapists testified before the Health and Human Services Committee on February 14, 2019, recognizing that the bill will not be brought to a vote until the sunrise review is completed. The Coalition submitted the 65-page (184 pages including appendices) sunrise review document and is participating in Technical Review Committee meetings. The Nebraska legislature meets January 8, 2020 – April 23, 2020.

Jennifer Jackson, ATR-BC, LIMHP, LPC, and Doug Zyblut, Nebraskans for the Arts Executive Director, met with bill sponsor Senator Sara Howard and her staff in advance of submitting the sunrise review questionnaire.

Massachusetts –  S 141, which would create the Professional Art Therapist license under the Board of Allied Mental Health Professions was introduced on January 22, 2019. Art therapists testified before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on May 13, 2019. The Massachusetts legislature convenes on January 1, 2020 and meets throughout the year.

New HampshireHB 546, which would create the Professional Art Therapist license under the Board of Mental Health, was introduced by Representative Peter Schmidt and Senator David Watters on January 3, 2019. Art therapists testified before the Executive Departments and Administration Committee in February before the bill was retained in committee until October. An October 22 public hearing was held on the revised bill, and the Committee voted 15 to 3 “Ought to Pass” on November 13, 2019.  The New Hampshire legislature meets from January 8, 2020 – June 30, 2020.

OhioSB 238, which would create an art therapist license and a music therapist license was introduced by Senators Kenny Yuko and Andrew Brenner on November 13, 2019. The bill would create separate licenses with distinct requirements; the art therapy license would be administered by the State Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board and the music therapy license would be administered by the State Medical Board. The Ohio legislature meets throughout the year.

Pennsylvania HB 932, which would create a Professional Art Therapist license under the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors, was introduced by Representative Timothy Briggson on March 25, 2019. The Pennsylvania legislature convenes on January 7, 2020 and meets throughout the year.

TennesseeHB 781/SB 55, which would create a Professional Art Therapist license under the Board of Examiners in Psychology, was introduced by Senator Becky Duncan Massey on January 28, 2019 and by Representative Bob Ramsey on February 6, 2019. The Tennessee legislature meets from January 14, 2020 – April 22, 2020.

Additionally, Delaware HB 218, which would prohibit insurance carriers from excluding licensed art therapists as eligible providers of covered services and from denying licensed art therapists equal compensation as other licensed providers who perform substantially equivalent mental health services, was introduced on June 13, 2019 by Representative Debra Heffernan. The bill was reported out of the Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee with a unanimous vote on June 19 and placed on the “ready list” just before the legislature adjourned for the year. The Delaware legislature meets from January 14, 2020 – June 30, 2020.


Are any new art therapy bills going to be introduced in the 2020 legislative sessions?


Yes! Art therapy licensure bill sponsors have submitted bills for drafting in Indiana and in Virginia. In 2019, the Virginia Department of Health Professions issued a report recommending licensure of art therapists, so we are excited that the legislation will be introduced soon!

Art therapists in several other states are also working on licensure campaigns that may result in additional legislation this year.


What resources are there for me as an advocate for art therapy?


Get involved in your state

The first step is to contact your state or regional AATA chapter to learn about legislative efforts in your state! There are so many ways to get involved in your state’s campaign. You can participate in the chapter’s call to action, reach out to your contacts for support letters, help research and produce legislative handouts, assist in an awareness or fundraising event, contact and meet with lawmakers, and even volunteer testify on behalf of art therapy when the time comes. AATA members also have access to variety of legislative and advocacy materials on MyAATA to help along the way.

Keep up with AATA updates

You can keep up with all the going-ons in the states on our Legislative News section (https://arttherapy.org/news-legislative/) of our News page! You can also find an up-to-date map showing where we are in the licensure process on the State Advocacy page.

Another way to stay in the loop is to join our community on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Read more about AATA’s licensure strategy

Our blog post “5 Building Blocks to Achieving Art Therapy Licensure in All 50 States” is a great way to learn about how all the components of our licensure strategy work together.

Learn about the legislative process in your state

The National Conference of State Legislators is a great place to start. They have many useful resources such as the 2020 State Legislative Session Calendar. It’s always best to go to the primary source, so confirm any information on your state legislature’s website. They will post their legislative session calendar as well as other important information on how the state operates. For example, the process of how a bill becomes a law also varies from state to state, so it’s important to learn the specifics of your state directly from the source.

Have any more questions?

Contact us at publicpolicy@arttherapy.org!