December 20, 2018


With 2018 coming to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some collective accomplishments we’ve made to support and advance the profession. Below we’ve highlighted gains and improvements in the membership experience, public awareness, legislation, accreditation, and broad collaborations.

Membership Experience

Our members are the heart of our Association. We’ve worked hard this year to improve the membership experience by creating new opportunities and enhancing existing member-exclusive offerings.

  • We launched the brand new online MyAATA Community forum, a virtual meeting place where members can connect, exchange resources, and support each other Members have been discussing a variety of topics including seeking practice advice relating to working with specific client groups, organizing trauma recovery efforts, and networking with others working in similar settings.  Members have created over 400 posts on 80 topics since the August launch!
  • Our 49th Annual Conference in Miami attracted over 1,100 attendees and offered over 230 educational sessions. It was our third-largest conference ever!
  • The Board updated the Strategic Plan to include the core priority area of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I). The Board has contracted with the Ivy Planning Group to help facilitate the planning phase DE&I initiative, including setting priorities in the Board’s ongoing commitment to make DE&I a central component to all of the AATA’s activities.
  • In January, we launched our new Mentor Match program, an easy-to-use, online service for mentors and mentees to find each other. By sharing the insights they’ve gained from years of experience, Mentors help Mentees jumpstart their careers. Login to MyAATA to enroll as a Mentor or Mentee!
  • We also modernized our Art Therapist Locator, transforming it into a user-friendly interactive map. Now it’s easier than ever for potential clients to connect with members and find art therapists for referrals. We are pleased to have seen an increase in the number of listings since we made this investment. Please remember to opt in to have your location included in this map.
  • We increased our continuing education offerings through the Institute for Continuing Education in Art Therapy (ICE/AT).
  • We announced two news scholarships this year.
  • We also expanded our support of art therapy research, funding two seed grants for clinician-researcher partnerships.

Professional Development

This year we have reached a milestone in our transition to third party accreditation and continued our momentum in licensure and other pro-art therapy legislation efforts.

  • The first two art therapy graduate programs have been approved for accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in the fall of 2018, with more approvals anticipated in 2019. In addition to further professionalizing art therapy programs, the availability of third party accreditation has prompted several institutions to create graduate programs in art therapy, expanding access to education in the field.
  • We obtained practice and title protection for art therapists in New Hampshire. In Virginia, for the first time ever, we saw the sunrise review process – a study by a state into the need to regulate a profession – lead to the determination that a separate license for art therapists is necessary to protect the public. Other bills correcting issues in previously enacted legislation were also passed in Delaware and Connecticut.
  • We plan to carry that momentum forward. Heading into 2019, Chapters in 14 states have licensure bill drafts that are ready for introduction in upcoming legislative sessions!

Art therapists gather after an open comment hearing during the Virginia Board of Health Profession’s meeting on June 26, 2018.

Public Awareness

This year we have expanded and integrated our platforms of communications to reach a wider audience than ever before as we educate the public on the benefits of art therapy. We have also continued to make statements clarifying the AATA’s values and sharing our positions on a variety of issues.

  • This summer we launched the AATA Blog and AATA News pages, so visitors to our website can easily search for content on the art therapy and stay up to date on announcements and statements of the Association.
  • In March, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert featured an AATA member in a skit on art therapy. In addition to the awareness of art therapy the segment generated, the show generously donated the proceeds of an online auction of Colbert’s artwork created during the skit to the AATA.  The $20,000 received was designated to support the AATA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Strategic Plan priority.
  • In the spring of 2018 we received a Google Grant of $10,000 in in-kind AdWords advertising per month, driving more traffic to our website!
  • This year the AATA signed onto 15 joint letters with other organizations focused on mental health on a variety of federal issues. In response to some policies or proposals in direct conflict with our values, the AATA issued Position Statements, including a statement on the traumatic impact of family separation and one opposing any efforts to redefine sex as strictly binary in civil rights law.  The AATA and the American Counseling Association sent a joint letter to the Attorney General’s office in response to misguided comments about student mental health in higher educational institutions.
  • In advance of the midterms, the AATA published our first ever Voter Education Guide, a non-partition guide on important issues for our profession.
  • The AATA continues to be active across social media platforms. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Rachel Brandoff, PhD, ATR-BC, LCAT, featured in a segment of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on March 14, 2018.

Campaigns & Partnerships

We continue to foster relationships and to collaborate with a variety of national organizations and agencies in order to amplify our work fulfilling the Association’s mission.

  • AATA is collaborating with National Parks Service to create art therapy positions in parks settings and increase public access to art therapy.
  • The National Office is working with insurance carriers like Anthem to build education and support for reimbursement of art therapy services in managed care environments.
  • As an annual in-kind sponsor of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day event, the AATA collaborated with SAMHSA to create a video showcasing art therapy as trauma-informed care. The video was shown as part of the pre-event, fitting with the 2018 theme, “Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma.”
  • The AATA continues to work with peers and partners in the arts and in mental health care organizations. As a National Partner for Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts’ annual Arts Action Summit, the AATA was a leader in Arts & Health and Arts in the Military educational sessions and briefs.
  • The AATA is also an active member of the Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), which represents shared interests in federal policy for leading mental health professions.
  • Through our Trauma Recovery Fund, the AATA has awarded grants to support several Chapters’ efforts to help communities in crisis. These funds supported work in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, in Florida following Hurricane Irma, and in California in the wake of the Thomas Fire.
  • For the first time ever, the AATA is collaborating with the British Art Therapy Association (BAAT) on the upcoming International Art Therapy Practice/Research Inaugural Conference in London in 2019.
  • The AATA’s partnership with AEM Hi Arts has resulted in high-quality art kits being donated to every first year student in AATA approved and CAAHEP accredited graduate programs as well as every attendee at our conference in Miami!

Screening of “Art Therapy and Childhood Trauma” during the pre-event of SAMHSA’s Children’s National Mental Health Awareness Day Event on May 10, 2018.

2018 has been another year of meaningful achievements for the profession! Find our 2017 year-end roundup here.  We can’t wait for what’s to come in 2019 as we celebrate the 365 days of our 50th Anniversary!