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Senator Vitale

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham that would require licensing for art therapists was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

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.

“Art therapists are highly trained professionals who practice in a wide range of clinical and other settings to help people who are suffering from illness and trauma to cope with their symptoms and stress and others who have developmental, behavioral, mental or emotional challenges to enhance their abilities,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “It is important that patients are treated by qualified therapists who have the right training, education and experience to care for their needs. Licensing will also allow therapists, who have dedicated their professional lives to helping others, to be 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.

“The diverse pool of individuals, couples, and families who find solace in art therapy includes those who have survived trauma related to combat, abuse, and natural disasters; those living with cancer or other serious health issue, and people with autism, dementia, depression and other disorders,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “The licensure of art therapists in New Jersey will ensure that patients are receiving services from credentialed professionals, and will promote the safe and competent practice of art therapy in the state.”

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 8-5. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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