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 Tyler Kirby, AATA Policy and Public Affairs Manager, at TKirby@arttherapy.org or (703) 548-5862 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
- Florida: The Florida Art Therapy Association is working with allied mental health professions in the state to build new support and is prepared to introduce new legislation in 2023, following in 2016, which would provide licensure for art therapists in Florida.
- Georgia: The Georgia Art Therapy Association is starting a new licensure initiative and is currently searching for sponsors.
- Indiana: The Indiana Art Therapy Association is preparing to introduce legislation in 2023, following up on 2021’s SB46, which would provide licensure for art therapists in Indiana.
- 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.
- 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.
- Missouri: The Missouri Art Therapy Association is working to advance a new licensure initiative in the state.
- New Hampshire: New Hampshire members of the New England Art Therapy Association are working to introduce legislation following 2020’s HB546 in providing licensure for art therapists in the state.
- New York: The New York Art Therapy Association is advocating for 2022’s A1171A which would require insurance companies offering mental health coverage to cover art therapy services along with services provided by a wide range of other allied mental health professions. Read more about this legislation and how you can help HERE.
- Ohio: The Buckeye Art Therapy Association is working to introduce legislation in 2023 following 2022’s HB359 to provide licensure for art therapists in the Ohio.
- Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Art Therapy Association is working to introduce new legislation following 2022’s HB932 to provide licensure for art therapists in the state.
- Vermont: The Vermont Art Therapy Association is working to introduce a new bill to license art therapists in the state of Vermont.
- Virginia: The Virginia Art Therapy Association is working to introduce legislation that would ensure insurance reimbursement in compliance with the Mental Healthcare Parity Act.
- Washington: The Evergreen Art Therapy Association is working to introduce new legislation to license art therapists in Washington state.
- West Virginia: West Virginian art therapists are working to introduce new legislation to provide licensure for art therapists in West Virginia.
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
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.