July 14, 2021
The regulatory structure of art therapists in Texas has recently undergone significant changes, both to the board with authority over the rulemaking process and to the rules themselves, including how art therapy is defined. The AATA submitted comment letters—first during the regular sunset review period with recommended improvements, and this week urging the rejection of a proposed redefinition of art therapy as a form of counseling.
Background on the Texas regulatory process
The new Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, established in 2019, has the authority of final regulatory decisions in Texas’s behavioral health and social work practice. In Texas, the rule that sets criteria for Texas professional counselor licensure, including the art therapy specialization (LPC-AT), undergoes a periodic sunset review (a review and update of current rules). The 2020 sunset review was the first one overseen by the Council, with recommendations of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors taken into account.
In August 2020, AATA submitted a comment letter during the regular sunset review process on how the section of the Texas Administrative Code that relates to art therapy (Chapter 681 of Title 22) could be improved.
Ultimately, the Council did not determine a need to make changes to the art therapy specialization. The current rules recently took effect on November 19, 2020 and were published in the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council and Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors handbook in February 2021.
Comment Letter July 2021
After publishing the final rules, the Council opened the revision process up again, much sooner than would be anticipated. The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors has proposed redefining Art Therapy from a “human service profession” to a “form of counseling.”
These changes proposed by the counseling board were published on the Texas Register on June 18th, and the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council is accepting comments for 30 days. AATA chapters, the South Texas Art Therapy Association (STATA) and the North Texas Art Therapy Association (NTATA), have kept Texas-based art therapists informed throughout this process and invited comments to be submitted.
On July 14th, AATA President Dr. Margaret Carlock-Russo submitted a comment letter on behalf of the Association. Below is an excerpt from the letter. View the full document here.
Texas was one of the first states to recognize the distinct professional training and practice of art therapy. Eighteen additional states now have laws or regulations recognizing art therapy as a separate mental health and human services profession for purposes of state licensing, hiring, and title protection. We urge that the Executive Council not turn the clock back fifteen years and reject the revised definition in section 681.2(3) that clearly runs counter to this national trend in state regulatory policy.