September 23, 2021 

While AATA’s mission is to advance art therapy as a regulated mental health profession and build a community that supports art therapists throughout their careers, we are only one of three organizations that assist art therapists with their career journeys. We hope that this post will help highlight what we offer at AATA and clarify the differences between organizations. As always, if you have questions or want to start a conversation, join us on the MyAATA Forum or contact the National Office!

What are the other organizations that support the profession and what are their roles?  

The Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education (ACATE)

If you’re an art therapy student or recent graduate, you’ve probably heard a lot about ACATE, or the Accreditation Council for Art Therapy Education. ACATE serves the profession of art therapy and the public by fostering communication among educators and providing information to the public and the art therapy community regarding educational standards and opportunities. ACATE also manages the new accreditation processes for art therapy master’s programs, which is still being phased in. (Not all programs have had a chance to apply to ACATE yet and remain approved by EPAB, or the AATA Education Program Approval Board, until the transition process is complete.)

ACATE is overseen by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), and CAAHEP is under oversight of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA ensures that CAAHEP and ACATE processes adhere to best practice and ethical processes.

CAAHEP and ACATE cooperate with AATA to establish, maintain, and promote appropriate standards of quality for educational programs that meet or exceed the minimum standards. However, AATA does not oversee ACATE.

The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB)

The ATCB, or Art Therapy Credentials Board, confers and administers professional credentials to art therapy practitioners. Its mission is to “protect the public by promoting the competent and ethical practice of art therapy through the credentialing of art therapy professionals.”

AATA does not oversee ATCB. The ATCB is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is a part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.

The ATCB confers and administers four professional credentials to art therapy practitioners:

  • Provisional Registered Art Therapist (ATR-Provisional), or ATR-P
  • Registered Art Therapist (ATR)
  • Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC), which requires recertification every five years through the completion of 100 continuing education credits or successful passage of the ATCBE national examination.
  • Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS)

The ATCB also develops the ATCBE examination that is administered by Pearson Vue.

How do I become a Board Certified art therapist?

The pathways to becoming board certified are overseen by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). While the master’s degree is the required entry level of art therapy, after graduating people can spend a few more years of work experience under supervision to become a “Registered Art Therapist”. You can advance to a “Board-Certified Art Therapist” by successfully passing the ATCBE national examination and recertifying every five years through the completion of 100 continuing education credits. Being able to put ATR then ATR-BC after your name shows you are highly trained and competent.

If I’m having issues with the credentialing process or with ATCB, who do I go to?

The ATCB confers and administers professional credentials to art therapy practitioners. AATA does not have oversight or influence on the credentialing process. AATA and the ATCB are independent of each other. The organizations were set up this way to ensure clear boundaries. That said, AATA leadership has been advocating for improvements in the credentialing process directly with the ATCB leadership. In addition, the AATA National Office has been forwarding, at members’ requests, pertinent information to the ATCB, pursuant to the ATCB’s own policies and rules. Despite being an entirely independent organization, our goal is to collaborate with and support the ATCB as much as possible to cultivate a strong, sustainable art therapy profession.”

This letter from ATCB President Charlotte Boston, which was posted on their website, may be helpful in understanding the context. However, all organizations that offer credentials are overseen and undergo accreditation review themselves to ensure adherence to processes that impact professional credentials. For the art therapy profession, such oversight and formal processes to submit complaints are available to the public through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), which is a part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. The NCCA helps to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public—and accepts complaints pertaining to violations of its Standards for Accreditation and/or its policies and procedures in accordance with the steps laid out on this website.

What is AATA’s role in the art therapy profession?

AATA’s goal is to support our members at every stage of their professional journey. Whether you’re a student seeking mentorship, a new professional looking for advice or support, or a long-term professional looking to expand your career, your membership ensures you access to reliable clinical and practice resources and education opportunities.

AATA provides our members with the latest information and resources, and an ever-expanding Institute for Continuing Education in Art Therapy (ICE/AT), our online learning platform. AATA’s annual conference is the premier event connecting art therapists with colleagues from across the nation and around the world to expand their knowledge.

As evident in this Coronavirus pandemic, our nation is facing an ongoing mental health crisis. AATA has been advocating to expand access to mental health care—from advancing art therapy licensure at the state level to participating in national policymaking—and raising awareness about the communities and clients we serve. We collaborate with and support our state chapters in advocating for licensure and other regulations that are critical to the profession.

AATA is also leading meaningful conversations about prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) within our own organization and profession. Earlier this year, AATA members and non-members participated in AATA’s DEI Listening Sessions to help the Association learn more about the art therapy community’s experience related to DEI. These ongoing AATA conversations, as well as webinars and education opportunities, are all helping to shape the future of our field—to make our profession as diverse as the communities we serve.

If you have specific questions about membership, please contact Terri Cochran, our Membership Services Manager.

How do I earn Continuing Education credits?

AATA’s Institute for Continuing Education in Art Therapy (ICE/AT) helps you obtain continuing education credits while you develop competencies and keep abreast of new trends in the field.

This online learning platform has more than 200 individual courses that offer continuing education. Some of the most prestigious art therapists, researchers, authors, and educators in the profession have contributed to the outstanding and diverse library. Members receive a substantial discounted rate.

AATA is an approved provider of continuing education by the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), and the State of New York for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists (NY LCATs).

Another option to earn continuing education credits is by attending AATA’s annual conference. This year, the conference will be all virtual. You can attend in real time on Oct. 23-24 and Dec. 18-19, or if you prefer to complete the sessions on your own time, your conference registration will provide access to an on-demand library. Registering for the annual conference will give you access to more than 100 hours of continuing education credits, with flexible on-demand access, depending on the number of conference days for which you are registered. Registered attendees will have until December 31, 2022, to complete their on-demand sessions.

If you have questions or need help with continuing education credits, please contact the National Office via at-institute@arttherapy.org.

What if I have more questions?

AATA encourages our members to keep the conversation going on the MyAATA Forum, or by contacting the National Office to discuss this or anything else that concerns your AATA membership, your career journey, and your art therapy community experience. AATA’s National Office staff can be reached via e-mail at info@arttherapy.org or by phone at 888-290-0878.

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