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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 signed into law today.

The law, S-2020, will 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 law. 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 also prohibits any person from using titles associated with the practice of art therapy unless licensed to do so.

“Many patients suffering from various illnesses and trauma turn to art therapy to deal with their symptoms, and to receive those services from a licensed individual is assurance that they are being cared for by someone who is highly educated and qualified, adequately trained, and more than capable of tending to their needs,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “An additional benefit, both to patients and therapists, is the opportunity to have services covered and reimbursed by insurance carriers who provide coverage for licensed art therapists.”

In addition, the law establishes 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 will be authorized to issue, renew, suspend, and revoke licenses, and maintain a record of every art therapist in the State. It will also implement and change the fees of services for applicants including examinations, licensures and renewals. Furthermore, the Committee will be responsible for establishing standards for the education of art therapists, and making rules and regulations necessary to carry out its duties.

“Art therapy has been successful in bringing comfort to those living with serious health or emotional issues and survivors of trauma, abuse, and natural disasters,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “With this law, art therapists will now be able to provide this valuable care to their patients as licensed practitioners, which will safeguard these vulnerable individuals and support the safe practice of art therapy in the state.”

An art therapist is defined as any person licensed to practice art therapy, under the law. Art therapy is 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. Historically, licenses were not required in the state of New Jersey.

The law takes effect on the 180th day following enactment.

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