October 15, 2023 | By Gretchen Graves, MS, ATR-BC, CDATA
(Sung to the tune of Rent’s 525,600 Minutes)
550 Days on the Secretary’s desk,
Our regulations have sat on his desk 550 days……
As you may recall, then-Governor Ralph Northam signed SB 713 into law on March 11, 2020, which established licensure for art therapists under the Board of Counseling. Proposed regulations were sent to Governor Glenn Younkin in early 2022 for his consideration. And then the momentum stalled.
Art therapy advocates in Richmond after the Virginia Senate meeting in 2020
After over a year and a half, the Art Therapy License Regulations have been picked up and dusted off with the help of Erin Barrett, JD, DHP, Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for the Department of Health Professions in Virginia. She said she was getting calls about how long it was taking for the regulations to pass—and people wanted to know why. So she made some suggestions and drafted some edits.
On Friday, October 6, 2023, the Art Therapy Advisory Board of the DHP of Virginia met for the first time since August 2021. After calling the meeting to order, Jaime H. Hoyle, JD, Executive Director, Boards of Counseling, Psychology and Social Work, held a vote and new officers were elected: Danica Henrich as Chair, and Elizabeth Anne Mills as Vice-Chair.
Then the Board got down to business and began to review Ms. Barrett’s licensure suggestions. There was a lot of discussion about credentialing and renewal, and the Board decided to continue working on the regulations via email. They agreed to meet in a month to review the regulations.
For consideration of the Board are the reinstatement of Section 18VAC115-90-80 (Continued competency requirements for renewal of a license) and 18VAC115-90-100 (Documenting compliance with continuing competency requirements).
You can also sign up for email notifications of meetings at that link.
If you would like to see the current suggested edits, please go to this link https://townhall.virginia.gov/l/meetings.cfm . Select Scheduled for “All Past and Future.”
Department Of Health Professions >
Board of Counseling >
All Chapters >
You can see the October 6 edits here.
Once the regulations are approved by the Art Therapy Advisory Board, they will circle back to the Board of Counseling and then back to the desk of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. They will also be available for the public to offer comments. Finally, the regulations will go on to the Governor’s desk for this signature.
At the end of the meeting, Ms. Barrett was asked what the public could do to help move this process along. She suggested that we write Governor Younkin and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to urge that the regulations be pushed through.
We also asked Jamie Hoyle what we should do to help move the regulations forward. She said we also need to encourage people—art therapists and non-art therapists alike—to apply to be a member of the Art Therapy Advisory Board. It doesn’t matter if they are part of AATA or VATA or not. There are currently two positions to be filled.
Art therapists in Virginia cannot be licensed until these regulations are passed. And this is not only hurting art therapists in the Commonwealth, but also continues to restrain access to mental health care in the long term. As George Washington University student Katie Grimes explained:
“As a graduate student and future art therapist and resident of Virginia, I want to be licensed in art therapy in my own state. However, if there is no art therapy license, I will obtain a license from a surrounding state (e.g. Maryland or DC) because those licenses prove that those states care and recognize the importance of art therapists as mental health professionals and care about the mental health, safety, and well-being of their residents. The art therapy license protects not only qualified art therapists but protects the people we serve and care for.”
Now more than ever, we need your help to secure art therapy licensure in Virginia.
Here’s how you can help:
- Review and Comment: Take a few moments to go through the proposed edits and share your thoughts during the public comment period. Your perspective matters, and it could influence the final regulations.
- Spread the Word: Increasing awareness for art therapy and this legislation is essential to amplifying our collective voice. Share this message with your friends, family, and colleagues—and ask them to weigh in.
- Contact the Governor and HHR Secretary: Call or send a message to the Governor’s office and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Urge them to expedite the approval of these regulations.
- Join the Art Therapy Board: If you’re passionate about art therapy and want to be directly involved, consider applying for one of the two open positions on the board here. You don’t need to be an AATA member or even an art therapist! All you need to be is a Virginia resident that cares about access to mental health care.