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Vitale Drama and Dance Therapist Licensing Bill Advances

Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, speaks to reporters after a news conference on the Statehouse steps on his efforts to limit charitable immunity in cases when the charity acts negligently in protecting children from sexual abuse.

TRENTON A bill sponsored by Senate Health, Social Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale that would provide for the licensure of clinical drama therapists, associate drama therapists, clinical dance/movement therapists, and associate dance/movement therapists was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee today.

The bill would also establish a Drama Therapy and Dance/Movement Therapy Advisory Committee under the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners.

“By integrating psychotherapeutic principles, creative processes and theater or dance expression, drama and dance or movement therapy are very effective methods for improving the emotional, physical, cognitive, social well-being and behavioral health of those who are dealing with mental health issues,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex).  “This bill would help ensure that in our state, patients would be confident that the drama and dance therapist professions are regulated and that the providers are licensed in accordance with educational and experiential standards.”

The bill defines drama and dance/movement therapy and provides for a licensing committee consisting of six state resident members: three licensed clinical drama therapists and three licensed clinical dance/movement therapists. The committee would be required to meet at least twice a year and would be charged with

  • issuing, renewing, suspending and revoking licenses,
  • keeping a record of every licensed therapist in the state,
  • regulating charges for examinations, licensures, renewal and other services; and
  • establish standards for continuing education; and
  • promulgate rules and regulations.

Under the bill, the committee would establish standards for continuing drama therapy education and continuing dance/movement therapy education, including the subject matter and content of courses of study, and approve programs offering continuing education credits.

To be eligible for licensure as a clinical drama therapist or associate drama therapist or a clinical dance/movement therapist or an associate dance/movement therapist, an applicant would need to:

  • be at least 21 years of age and be of good moral character;
  • hold a master’s degree in drama therapy or dance/movement therapy from an accredited educational institution of higher learning that is approved by the committee; or a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in a mental health discipline from an accredited educational institution of higher learning with specific additional training in drama therapy or dance/movement therapy coursework, and complete an internship as approved by the committee;
  • meet the requisite number of graduate credit hours or its equivalent;
  • complete the amount of supervised paid clinical experience;
  • complete additional concentrated theater/drama or dance training and study; and
  • pass an examination or assessment administered or approved by the committee.

The bill would provide that no person is permitted to engage in the practice of, or use the title associated with the respective license of, drama therapy or dance/movement therapy unless licensed.

The bill was released from committee with a 3-0 vote.