February 23, 2024 | By Meredith Ashley, AATA Policy and Communications Coordinator

It’s no secret we are in the throes of a global mental health crisis. According to the APA, currently more than a third of U.S. adults have a diagnosed mental health condition. In fact, the results from the most recent Stress in America™ Survey show adults aged 35-44 experienced the highest increase in mental health diagnoses – almost 15%. Yet despite the rise in mental health diagnoses, 165 million Americans currently live in mental health care health professional shortage areas, making it extremely difficult to get help.

This is why now, more than ever, the work of our chapters and member advocates is so important. Advocating for licensure isn’t just about advocating for practicing art therapists: it’s about calling for increased access to mental health professionals and keeping the profession sustainable for future art therapists.

As many of the state legislatures reconvene and our work begins again, we step back to reflect on 2023 and acknowledge the accomplishments of our advocates. 

Big Wins in Art Therapy Licensure Efforts 


Thanks to a grassroots effort by the Nebraska Art Therapy Coalition, art therapists in the state secure licensure this March! LB605, which changes provisions of the Mental Health Practice Act to include protections and requirements for certified art therapists, was passed unanimously by Nebraska’s legislature and signed by Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen on March 11. This victory is the culmination of many years of organizing, advocacy, and coalition building by the Coalition as well as mental health, education, and arts advocates in the state. Their efforts began with a sunrise review request to the Nebraska Dept. of Health and Human Services in 2018.


On July 4, 2023, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 33, finally securing art therapy licensure in Ohio. The Buckeye Art Therapy Association was awarded the President’s Award at the 2023 San Diego Conference for their extraordinary efforts to champion the art therapy profession. To learn more about the Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s path to licensure, check out this commemorative video and visit their website.

As of February 2024, the first draft of the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board rules for the Art Therapy License have been released for public comment. These milestones are the result of persistent and committed advocacy that Ohio art therapists have put forth over several decades. 

District of Columbia 

In January of 2024, the first Art Therapy licenses were issued in D.C. After undergoing the application process, AATA members held a Licensure Information Session to help answer questions about becoming a Licensed Graduate Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Art Therapist. You can find more information about the licenses on the DC Board of Professional Counseling website. 

New Art Therapy Legislation Introduced


The Pennsylvania Art Therapy Association is advocating for two bills introduced by Representative Briggs who filed House Bill 1398 and Senator Brown who filed Senate Bill 786. As part of their advocacy efforts the chapter hosted a Hill Day in November and met with Akbar Hossain, the Secretary of Policy & Planning in Governor Shapiro’s office to begin a partnership on the licensure effort. Continuing their efforts in 2024, the chapter hosted a successful Hill Day on March 20, 2024 with both Rep. Venkat and Senator Costa had agreeing to co-sponsor the bills. 


In fall of 2023, the Florida Art Therapy Association began advocating for two bills: House Bill 51 introduced by Representative Tant and Senate Bill 878 introduced by Senator Jones. To drive momentum for the bills after their introduction, The Florida Art Therapy Association (FATA) in collaboration with the Florida State University (FSU) Art Therapy Program, hosted an art therapy licensure advocacy event on Friday, November 17th, 2023. The chapter’s efforts were amplified in 2024 with coverage of chapter members and their advocacy efforts on Fox 13 Tampa Bay and Spectrum Bay News 9.

Unfortunately, HB51 died in the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee and SB878 died in the Health Policy; Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services; Fiscal Policy. Florida advocates will continue to advocate for art therapy legislation and work to reintroduce these bills again in 2025.


In March 2023 HF2743 was introduced by Representatves Agbaje, Norris, and Newton. Minnesota AATA members have been fiercely advocating for the bill and in February 2024, had the opportunity to testify before the in the Minnesota House Health Finance & Policy Committee.


In February 2024, a bill for art therapy licensure bill (HB5019) was filed in the House by Representative Yang Roh with the Support of the Illinois Art Therapy Association. The bill was referred to the Health Care Licenses Committee in March, but due to opposition from the Social Workers Association and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) the bill was not able to move forward as written. To read more about IATA licensure efforts here. Representative Yang Rohr has agreed to sponsor the bill when it is reintroduced in 2025. In preparation, IATA is dedicating time to better educate legislators and the public on art therapy and search for co-sponsors. 

Updates on Previously Passed Legislation


After an October 2023 Art Therapy Advisory Board meeting with the Virginia Department of Health Professions, there was a renewed effort to advocate for the passage of regulations. The Virginia Art Therapy Association is urging three individuals to act now to establish a licensing process for Virginia art therapists. Art therapists in Virginia can support this effort by contacting Governor Youngkin or sending an email to Secretary Of Health and Human Resources John Littel or Executive Director of the Boards of Psychology, Social Work, and Counseling Jaime Hoyle to encourage them to take action.

Check out VATA member Gretchen Grave’s blog post to learn more about their efforts. 

Advancing the Profession

New Jersey

The NJATA Government Affairs Committee has been vigorously advocating for insurance reimbursement by surveying members on insurance reimbursement trends and taking steps toward in-network insurance coverage for art therapy services. The committee has also been working with the State’s Civil Service Commission to update the job description for art therapists and participating in state-level Medicaid Services discussions to advocate for art therapy’s inclusion in public health initiatives. 


Members of the Vermont Art Therapy Association were invited, along with other mental health professionals, by the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) to participate in a study that was mandated by the legislature. The goal of the study is to streamline mental health licensure, remove barriers to access for mental health professionals, and address issues related to supervision of mental health professionals. The Vermont chapter’s participation continues to be integral to shaping the future of licensure in Vermont and has led to agreement that art therapy licensure is necessary. 

The Beginning of New (and Renewed) Efforts

Southern California

In partnership with the organization REACH for Community, SoCal ATA members have begun a new effort to create licensure in the state. Members met with Senator Ben Allen in late 2023 and are continuing to meet with legislators to round up support for a licensure bill they hope to put forth in 2025. To raise community awareness, the chapter hosted a Panel on the need for art therapy licensure in partnership with REACH for Community, the AATA National Office, and Californians for the Arts. 


In March 2023, the Colorado Art Therapy Association chose to form the Government Action Committee (GAC) to raise public awareness about the training required to become an art therapist and advocate for legal protection for art therapists’ scope of practice. The GAC conducted a poll in 2023 which indicated that title protection was in favor. Since then, the GAC has begun working on advocacy material and contacting legislators in pursuit of title protection for art therapists. The main focus of the GAC is finding a sponsor and gathering signatures on their advocacy pledge.

South Carolina

In 2023, the South Carolina Art Therapy Association’s legislative team drafted a bill draft and updated all advocacy documents to present to representatives and partners in the community which they hope to introduce in . The Director of Governmental Affairs at MUSC Health’s (the largest health system in South Carolina) is committed to working with the state’s licensure and regulation committee and representatives to push our draft bill forward. In February 2024, SCAAT will also be involved with “Arts Day” in Columbia to advocate alongside the SC Arts Commission and SC Arts Alliance, 2 arts advocacy bodies committed to helping art therapists obtain licensure in the state. 


In 2023, the Evergreen Art Therapy Association drafted a bill and a sunrise review with the help of the National Office. As of February 2024, the chapter is looking for sponsors so that they can introduce their bill in the 2025 legislative cycle. The chapter hopes to put legislation forth in January 2025 and is currently lreaching out to legislators to find a sponsor. 

Get Involved 

To stay in the loop for art therapy legislation that may be active in your state, check out your state’s legislative calendar or reach out to your local chapter to get involved.