The American Art Therapy Association is committed to engaging, both at the state and national levels, in legislative and regulatory initiatives that move the profession forward and/or support the well-being of art therapists and the clients they serve. Through collaborations with our chapters and partnerships, the Association seeks to promote public awareness, increased availability, and appropriate regulation of art therapy services and to support advocacy efforts within our wider communities of behavioral health providers, the arts, and education services.
HOW DOES THE AATA WORK WITH STATE ADVOCATES?
The AATA works with its 39 state and regional chapters and with art therapist advocacy groups to expand public awareness of and access to services provided by licensed or credentialed art therapists. The AATA advises and supports advocacy with state legislatures and regulatory agencies with a variety of services designed to help local advocates through every step of the process. Services provided include, but are not limited to:
- Train first-time advocates on how to effectively organize an advocacy effort, seek broader community support, and initiate communications with legislators.
- Complete extensive research on each state’s legislative and regulatory landscape and identify available policy options.
- Provide literature on the efficacy of art therapy, templates for surveys, testimonials and advocacy materials, and other useful background information.
- Create tailored webinars based on state member surveys and unique local challenges.
- Offer expert advice on the process of creating and amending a bill and providing bill drafts.
- Provide guidance on maintaining membership engagement and counseling on group dynamic.
- Connect advocates to art therapists in other states with common experiences or advocacy challenges.
WHICH STATES HAVE LICENSES?
STATE ART THERAPY LICENSES
District of Columbia
STATES LICENSING ART THERAPISTS UNDER RELATED LICENSES
STATES RECOGNIZING ART THERAPISTS FOR PURPOSES OF STATE HIRING AND/OR TITLE PROTECTION
Login to the MyAATA portal or become an AATA member to gain access to resources that can help you navigate the licensure process. This includes a list of regulatory boards and their contact information as well as a state-by state list of alternative licenses in related professions, such as the Marriage and Family Therapy License (MFT) and the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license. Also find breakdowns of licensing and practice requirements in each state including examinations, clinical hours, fees, and supervision and portability rules.
WHAT TYPES OF BILLS ARE INTRODUCED?
The issues addressed in art therapy legislation depend on the political landscape of a given state, its licensing and regulatory structure, and the unique challenges confronting local art therapists. Some of the issues addressed in recent state bills include:
- Licensure and regulation of art therapists
- Practice and title protection for licensed or credentialed art therapists
- Guidelines for hiring art therapists by State programs
- Insurance reimbursement for art therapy services
WHAT ARE THE AATA’S RECENT LEGISLATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR THE PROFESSION?
The AATA is working on advocacy efforts with 19 states, including eight states with currently active legislative initiatives. For more details on each bill, follow the links to the announcement articles in Art Therapy Today:
Tennessee House Bill 2150 (April, 5 2021) provides art therapy licensing and title protection for credentialed professionals.
District of Columbia L23-0115 (June 24, 2020) The clear definition and scope of practice the license provides will help consumers and employers alike find qualified art therapists.
Connecticut House Bill 7424 (June, 26 2019) provides art therapy licensing and title protection for credentialed professionals.
IS THE AATA ENGAGED IN ADVOCACY EFFORTS ON THE FEDERAL-LEVEL?
While the majority of the AATA’s recent advocacy efforts take place on the state-level ⎯ as states are largely responsible for regulating licensure, insurance reimbursement, and hiring and payment guidelines for state health and mental health services⎯ the AATA also works at the federal-level when there is an opportunity to move the profession forward. Recently, following several years of engaged efforts on the part of the AATA, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics updated the classification of art therapists from the 2010 Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system, in which art therapists were inappropriately classified within the 29-1125 occupational code for recreational therapists. The upcoming 2018 SOC system will classify art therapists within a broader 29-1129 health practitioner occupation group for “Therapists: All Other.”
For more information on AATA activities at the federal-level on policy issues related to behavioral healthcare and education, please click the button below.
HOW DO THE STANDARD OCCUPATION CLASSIFICATION (SOC) CODES AFFECT ART THERAPISTS?
Reclassifying art therapists as a separate therapeutic occupation will help our members in a variety of ways. SOC classifications form the basis for job descriptions and hiring by both government and private employers and define categories of services for government and private insurance reimbursement. Misclassification of art therapists as recreational therapists had created serious difficulties for many art therapists, including:
- Art therapists being hired to fill recreation therapist positions in VA hospitals and supervised by practitioners with less therapeutic training and little understanding of art therapy.
- Insurance companies refusing to recognize and reimburse art therapists as providing mental health services.
- Changes in hospital hiring guidelines in several states have threatened to dismiss art therapists hired to fill recreational therapist positions unless they obtain national Therapeutic Recreation Specialist certification.
The new SOC code will require federal and state agencies and private employers to redefine job descriptions, as well as pay levels and hiring guidelines, require insurers to re-evaluate how art therapy services are defined and covered for individual and group insurance plans, and may open additional approaches for state licensing and regulation.
For a more detailed write-up on how this legislation will impact the profession, please read “A Step Forward for Distinct Classification of Art Therapy through the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” in Art Therapy Today.