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Senator Vitale

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham to require licensing for art therapists was approved yesterday by the Senate Commerce 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.

“There are many benefits to the use of art therapy for those who are in need of the support, whether you are a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or an individual with special needs,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This is why it is important to protect consumers from unqualified therapists by ensuring those practicing art therapy are qualified, credentialed and have the proper educational background to perform this kind of therapy and provide the residents with the care they need.”

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.

“Creating an advisory committee is necessary to monitor and regulate the licensing process of applicants looking to become art therapist professionals and practice in the state,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Through this bill, accredited therapists are able to acquire and renew their licenses through the appropriate channels.”

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 6-1. It now heads to the Budget and Appropriations Committee.


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