With our chapters and mental health partners, AATA works to raise public awareness about art therapy, make services more accessible to communities, and promote legislative and regulatory initiatives that advance the profession and support the well-being of art therapists and the clients they serve.
Art therapy is now a regulated mental health profession in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Art therapists hold professional art therapy licenses in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia. They are regulated under related professional licenses in Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Utah. Additionally, art therapists are recognized for purposes of state hiring and/or title protection in Arizona, Louisiana, and New Hampshire.
While art therapists have relied on licensure through related allied mental health professions in the past, the window for that option is closing rapidly. Now more than ever, art therapists need to rally to gain art therapy licensure to ensure professional sustainability for generations to come. AATA works with our state and local chapters in securing licenses in their states, obtain insurance reimbursement, as well as protect the art therapy profession from the threat of deregulation, which would take away the public’s ability to discern qualified practitioners from bad actors.
We want to make it as easy as possible to learn more and join the campaign in your state.
- Get started by watching this virtual advocacy session where you’ll hear about the basics of advocacy from art therapists who have been advocating for the profession for decades.
- Read AATA Past President Margaret Carlock Russo’s post on the importance of advocacy and licensure.
- Reach out to your local chapters and Meredith Ashley, AATA Policy and Communications Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 567-9701 to learn about local initiatives or to get one started. Joining local advocacy initiatives can be a great way to connect with other art therapists around you and have a positive impact on your community by expanding access to life changing mental health care!
Current Active Legislation
States with Active Legislation:
- Florida: The Florida Art Therapy Association has introduced HB51 and SB878 to provide licensure for art therapists in Florida with the sponsorship of Representative Tant and Senator Jones.
- Indiana: The Indiana Art Therapy Association has introduced SB338 and HB1101 to provide licensure for art therapists in Indiana with the sponsorship of Representative Gore and Senators Becker, Leising, and Ford.
- Illinois: The Illinois Art Therapy Association has introduced HB5019 to provide licensure for art therapists in Illinois with the sponsorship of Representative Yang Rohr.
- Michigan: The Michigan Art Therapy Association is preparing to introduce legislation in 2023 following up on 2018’s HB6098, providing licensure for art therapists in Michigan.
- Minnesota: The Minnesota Art Therapy Association has introduced HF2743 to provide licensure for art therapists in Minnesota with the sponsorship of Representatives Agbaje, Norris, and Newton.
- Nebraska: The Nebraska Art Therapy Licensure Coalition has introduced LB605 to provide licensure for art therapists with the sponsorship of Senator Albrecht.
- Nevada: Art therapists in Nevada have introduced AB338 with the sponsorship of Assemblywoman Peters. This bill would require that the state plan for Medicaid provide coverage for creative arts therapies.
- Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Art Therapy Association has introduced HB1398 and SB786 to provide licensure for art therapists in Pennsylvania. with the sponsorship of Representatives Briggs and Senator Brown.
States with Active Advocacy Campaigns:
- California: Members of the Northern and Southern Chapters of California’s Art Therapy Associations had their first meeting with legislators about sponsoring licensure legislation they plan to introduce in 2024.
- Georgia: The Georgia Art Therapy Association is starting a new licensure initiative and is currently searching for sponsors.
- Iowa: The Iowa Art Therapy Association is preparing to introduce legislation in 2023 following up on 2021’s HF467, providing licensure for art therapists in Iowa.
- Missouri: The Missouri Art Therapy Association is working to advance a new licensure initiative in the state.
- Virginia: The Virginia Art Therapy Association is continuing to push the Governor to sign the Art Therapy regulations after their licensure legislation passed on March 11, 2020 and is working to introduce legislation that would ensure insurance reimbursement in compliance with the Mental Healthcare Parity Act. Read about how you can help the regulations get passed in VATA member Gretchen Grave’s blog post.
- Vermont: The Vermont Art Therapy Association is working with the Office of Professional Regulation as contributing members of a study mandated by legislature to streamline mental health licensure, remove barriers to access for mental health professionals, and address issues related to supervision of mental health professionals. This study will pave the way for the chapter to introduce licensure legislation.
- Washington: The Evergreen Art Therapy Association is working to finalize their sunrise review for submission to begin the legislative process for providing art therapy licensure in Washington state.
- West Virginia: West Virginian art therapists are working to introduce new legislation to provide licensure for art therapists in West Virginia.
- Ohio: The Buckeye Art Therapy Association has won art therapy licensure for the state of Ohio after Governor DeWine signed HB33 on July 4, 2023.
- New York: The New York Art Therapy Association’s advocacy for 2022’s A1171A which would require insurance companies offering mental health coverage to cover art therapy services was a success and passed on May 25, 2022.
Why Advocate for Licensure?
Achieving art therapy licensure is a core part of our mission to advance art therapy as a regulated mental health and human services profession. Licensure provides numerous protections and benefits for the public and for art therapists, including:
- Protecting the public from harm, misrepresentation, and fraud by offering a means to easily identify practitioners with the academic training and clinical skills required for safe, effective, and ethical practice of art therapy.
- Offering a cost-effective approach to increase the number of licensed and credentialed practitioners to meet the public’s growing need for mental health services — particularly during the Coronavirus pandemic — and offer greater diversity and innovation in mental health services available to consumers.
- Providing title and practice protection for art therapists, which would prohibit persons who do not hold Master’s degrees in art therapy from using the title “art therapist” or practicing “art therapy.”
- Opening the door to insurance reimbursement – making art therapy more available and affordable to potential clients.
WHICH STATES HAVE LICENSES?
STATE ART THERAPY LICENSES
District of Columbia
Licensed Professional Art Therapist (LPAT)
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:
Update on Virginia’s Licensure Regulations (December, 10 2023)
The Florida Art Therapy Association (FATA) in collaboration with the Florida State University (FSU) Art Therapy Program, hosted an art therapy advocacy convening on Friday, November 17th. The event brought together a diverse community to advocate for the legislative efforts for HB51 and SB878.
Update on Virginia’s Licensure Regulations (October, 15 2023)
Governor Ralph Northam signed SB 713 into law on March 11, 2020, which established licensure for art therapists under the Board of Counseling. Proposed regulations were sent to Governor Glenn Younkin in early 2022 for his consideration. And then the momentum stalled.
Big Win for Ohio! (December 5, 2023)
Governor DeWine signed HB33 on July 4, 2023, finally securing art therapy licensure in Ohio after several decades of persistent advocacy. This accomplishment earned them the President’s Award at AATA’s 2023 Conference.
Big News in New Mexico! (October 28, 2022)
New Mexico LPATs are now eligible to apply for Medicaid reimbursement as private practitioners. After 28 years of advocating, this is a huge victory because, Medicaid approval status sets the standard for all other insurance companies.
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.