March 11, 2021 

As state legislatures continue to focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic, several art therapy licensing bills are advancing as a way to address the mental health crisis that has accompanied the virus. Read on for updates on legislation in Tennessee, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania in the 2021 legislative sessions!

Licensure bill passes committees in Tennessee

Art therapy licensure bills have been moving through the Tennessee General Assembly House and Senate committees. Both bills provide for a Professional Art Therapist license under the Board of Examiners in Psychology.

Senate Bill 101, introduced on January 13st, has been voted out of two committees — Government Operations (2/17) and Health and Welfare (3/10) — and referred to the Senate Calendar Committee

House Bill 183, introduced on January 14th, has passed the Health Committee (3/3) and been referred to the Government Operations Committee.

Read the Tennessee Art Therapy Association’s 2021 Art Therapy Legislation Talking Points to learn more about the bill and art therapists’ impact in Tennessee.

Screenshot of art therapist Catherine Harris, MA, ATR-BC testifying to the benefits of licensing art therapists before the House Health Subcommittee on February 23, 2021.


Nebraska certification bill advances following positive sunrise review


Nebraska LB 325 was introduced on January 13th and voted out of the Health and Human Services Committee on March 10th.

The licensure legislation was preceded by a sunrise review process tasked with establishing the appropriate level of regulation for the profession. In alignment with Nebraska’s unique mental health licensing structure, the Nebraska Art Therapy Licensure Coalition, which includes Nebraskans for the Arts, individual art therapists, and supporting organizations, proposed providing for credentialing of professional art therapists as licensed mental health practitioners with associated certification as professional art therapists.

Extensive study of the field over two years and culminated in a May 2020 report from the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services in favor of the Coalition’s licensure proposal.

Licensure bill introduced in Pennsylvania


HB 786 was introduced on March 8th and referred to the Professional Licensure Committee.

The bill sponsor Representative Tim Briggs issued the following memo to colleagues describing the legislation:

If you decide to procure art therapy treatment in the Commonwealth, there is no way to know if the individual offering this treatment has the requisite training.

There are approximately 500 Individuals in Pennsylvania offering some type of art therapy.  Art therapy is a distinct mental health and behavioral science profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development, psychological and counseling theories, and techniques with training in visual art and the creative process.  Art therapy is used in order to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions.

While art therapists share elements of their training and practice with other mental health specialties, it is the combining of psychological knowledge and counseling skills along with an understanding of art media, the effect of art stimulus, and the creative process that distinguishes art therapy from other mental health treatments.  Currently, individuals can practice this therapy in Pennsylvania without obtaining state certification ensuring their proficiency.

My legislation would require the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors to create a Licensed Art Therapist certification that ensures these individuals have the necessary training.

Several other states provide certification for art therapists.  It is time for our state to begin recognizing these professionals for their unique skill set, while providing our constituents with the peace of mind that these individuals truly provide the care they are seeking for their loved ones.

Please support this effort to provide a standard licensing process for all art therapists in the Commonwealth.