May 21, 2024 | By The Virginia Art Therapy Association Board 

Virginia art therapists have worked hard over the course of many years to pass legislation creating a unique license for art therapists that protects the public and allows art therapists to practice art therapy in its own right. In 2020, art therapists finally succeeded and passed legislation which was signed into law by then Governor Northam. Before the legislation could be acted upon, Governor Youngkin took office and has not since established an art therapy licensing process in accordance with the law. This has made it significantly harder for art therapists to begin serving their communities in the more robust ways promised by this legislation and has made Virginia less appealing for those graduating from the art therapy programs at Eastern Virginia Medical School and George Washington University. 

You may recall our member Gretchen Grave’s blog post detailing these struggles and our chapter’s renewed advocacy efforts following the first Art Therapy Advisory Board meeting in over two years last October. At the meeting’s close, Erin Barrett, JD, DHP, Director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for Virginia’s Department of Health Professions, proposed that the Virginia Art Therapy Association (VATA) start a letter-writing campaign to advance the regulations. 

This April our chapter sent out an email to call on all Art Therapists in Virginia, asking them to do just that. You may have even received our letter yourself! We are excited to report that over 50 letters have been sent, but the work isn’t done yet. To ensure the licensure of our profession it is crucial we continue contacting with these individuals until our voices are heard. You can also attend the next Art Therapy Advisory Board meeting in Henrico, Virginia on October 18th to show your support. The agenda and location for the meeting will be posted to the Calendar page of the website and the Virginia Regulatory Townhall. To access the Townhall and sign up for notifications, click here.  

The goal of our current advocacy efforts is to prompt three individuals to take immediate action to establish a licensing process for Virginia art therapists. Such action would empower our community to better address the mental health crisis within the state and practice art therapy as art therapists rather than as practitioners of other mental healthcare professions. Let’s work together to make Virginia a more appealing home for new graduates and current practitioners elsewhere in the nation where unique licensing legislation has yet to be passed.  

Please use the model letter below to support our campaign and alert the following individuals to act on this crucial issue.  

John Littel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources


Jaime Hoyle, Executive Director, Boards of Counseling, Psychology and Social Work