February 18, 2022 | Traci Bitondo LPAT, LPC, ATR-BC, ACS, ATCS, New Jersey Art Therapy Association Government Affairs Chairperson
It feels so good to finally report this with confidence: New Jersey is licensing Art Therapists! While that alone is worth celebrating, for New Jersey art therapists, this is particularly amazing given the unexpected, winding journey we took over the years to get here. In 2016, Governor Chris Christie made history by signing into law state bill A1783, known as the Art Therapist Licensing Act, after years of tireless work from the New Jersey Art Therapy Association (NJATA).
NJATA continued the intensive work required before licenses could be issued, including writing regulations and making nominations for appointments to the new state Art Therapist Advisory Committee. Finally, in 2020, we had an application posted for Art Therapists to apply for licensure. While Art Therapists had begun to apply for licensure, we faced a global pandemic that March. In June, the Governor abolished the Art Therapist Advisory Committee in favor of creating a new licensing board for all Creative Arts Therapists in the state, which required revisiting all of NJATA’s previous regulatory work . These unprecedented obstacles were a serious blow to our progress over the years, but we persisted.
The creation of a new licensing board in the state caused significant delays in licensure as the art therapy community had to wait for the newly created board to be populated. NJATA joined forces with the Drama, Dance/Movement, and Music Therapies communities in the state to work together toward identifying new board nominees from our respective disciplines. This time was filled with countless calls and emails to State Senators, grassroots calls-to-action, and examples of a resilient community determined to overcome each obstacle placed in our way.
Our persistence paid off—and in August 2021, the NJ State Board of Creative Arts and Activities Therapies swore in their first members. And in January 2022, licenses began to be issued to Art Therapists who applied back in 2020!
Each new Professional Art Therapy License (LPAT) and Licensed Associate Art Therapist (LAAT) issued in New Jersey is a well earned victory!