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Vitale-Cunningham Bill to Allow Licensure of Art Therapists Heads to Governor

Press Release 12/17/15

ArtTherapyTRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham that would require licensing for art therapists gained final legislative approval today by the Senate.

The bill, S-2020, would allow for the licensure of art therapists. Under the legislation, only licensed art therapists, associate art therapists and other qualified medical professionals could practice art therapy. To qualify for a license as a professional or as an associate art therapist, applicants must be 18 years of age, be of good moral character, and hold a master’s or doctorate’s degree in a field related to art therapy from an accredited institution, according to the bill. Licenses would be issued for a two-year period after paying a fee and renewed after sufficient proof is shown that an applicant has completed any continuing education requirements. It would also prohibit any person from using titles associated with the practice of art therapy unless licensed to do so.

“It is important that patients suffering from illness and trauma who turn to art therapy to cope with their symptoms are treated and cared for by highly qualified individuals who have the appropriate training, education and experience to tend to their needs,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Art therapists practice in a wide range of clinical and other settings. Their licensure will ensure that they have the right credentials to carry out their work, and will allow them the benefit of being reimbursed for their services by insurance carriers that provide coverage for licensed art therapists.”

In addition, the legislation would establish an Art Therapists Advisory Committee under the Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners in the Department of Law and Public Safety’s Division of Consumer Affairs. The Committee would be authorized to issue, renew, suspend, and revoke licenses, and maintain a record of every art therapist in the State. It would also implement and change the fees of services for applicants including examinations, licensures and renewals. Furthermore, the Committee would establish standards for the education of art therapists, and make rules and regulations necessary to carry out its duties.

“Art therapy provides much comfort to individuals, couples, and families who have survived trauma, abuse, and natural disasters, and those living with serious health issues and emotional disorders,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Allowing for the licensure of art therapists will ensure that these vulnerable patients are receiving the right level of care by these highly-educated professionals and will promote the safe practice of art therapy in New Jersey.”

An art therapist would be defined as any person licensed to practice art therapy, under the bill. Art therapy would also be defined as the psychotherapeutic use of art media and creativity to assist individuals, families or groups in increasing awareness of themselves and others, providing coping strategies for symptoms and traumatic experiences, and assist persons with cognitive, developmental, mental, and emotional needs.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, other states have implemented art therapy licensing requirements including Maryland, Mississippi, Kentucky, and New Mexico. Currently, licenses are not required in the state of New Jersey.

The bill was approved with a vote of 26-10 in the Senate and 60-11 in the Assembly. It now heads to the Governor’s desk for action.

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