January 16, 2020

2020 is off to a great start for art therapy! Art therapy licensure bills were introduced in Virginia and Indiana, and art therapists in Nebraska and Wisconsin participated in sunrise review processes or proposals already this January.

New Art Therapy Licensure Bills

Virginia Senate Bill 713 was introduced by Senator Jennifer McClellan [D] on January 7th and referred to the Committee on Education and Health. The bill would establish licensure of Professional Art Therapists under the Board of Counseling. In 2018 the Virginia Department of Health Professions completed a sunrise review process and issued a report recommending licensure of art therapists.

Companion bills introduced in Indiana on January 15th would create an Art Therapist License under the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board and qualify art therapist for Medicaid reimbursement under the State’s Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Mental Health Centers Program. House Bill 1422 was introduced by Representative Melanie Wright [D] and referred to the Committee on Public Health, and Senate Bill 439 was introduced by Senator Ronald Grooms [R] and referred to the Committee on Health and Provider Services.

Action in Sunrise Reviews

On January 7th, the Nebraska Art Therapy Licensure Coalition participated in the third Technical Review Committee meeting regarding the art therapy sunrise review. A public hearing is scheduled for February 4th.

AATA Board Member Jennifer Jividen Jackson, ATR-BC, LIMHP, LPC; Nebraskans for the Arts Executive Director Doug Zyblut; and Art Therapist Intern Jenelle Hallaert, MS, at the State Office Building in Lincoln, Nebraska following the Technical Review Committee meeting.

The Wisconsin Legislature is considering a bill that would establish a sunrise review process, requiring any new occupational licensing or regulation proposal to go through a formal evaluation by the State, culminating in a report to the Legislature. Chris Belkofer, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, Director of the Graduate Art Therapy Department at Mount Mary University and Government Affairs Representative of Wisconsin Art Therapy Association, testified in opposition to the bill, AB 605 on January 8th during an Assembly Committee on Licensing and Regulatory Reform public hearing.

In addition to voicing concern about a process intended to set up roadblocks to discourage occupations from obtaining appropriate licenses or regulation needed to protect the public, Belkofer offered ways to improve the legislation. As written, the evaluation criteria take a negative or punitive approach to regulation, focusing heavily on documented incidences of harm by a profession. Expanding the criteria to include issues relating to public confusion about who is qualified to practice specific professions would work prospectively to prevent clients from physical or mental harm in addition to potential financial harm related to the cost and time required to experiment with other forms of treatment or therapy.

Active Art Therapy Legislation

For more information, read, “Art Therapy Legislation to Watch in 2020.”

Thank you to the many volunteers across the country working hard to advance the profession of art therapy!