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McKeon, Sumter & Moriarty Bill to Establish NJ Art Therapy License Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats John F. McKeon, Shavonda Sumter and Paul Moriarty sponsored to require licensure for the practice of art therapy in New Jersey recently was signed into law.

“Art therapists serve the public by using the creative process to help clients dealing with cognitive, psychological and physical challenges,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “This law will promote professionalism among art therapists in New Jersey while protecting vulnerable individuals against bad actors.”

The new law (A-1783), the “Art Therapist Licensing Act,” requires all practicing art therapists in New Jersey to hold an art therapy license. The intent of the law is to protect the public by setting standards of qualification, education, training and experience for professional art therapists.

To be eligible to be a licensed professional art therapist, an applicant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age;
  • Be of good moral character;
  • Hold a master’s degree in art therapy, or in a related field with specialization in art therapy, from an accredited institution or have completed coursework and training substantially equivalent to that required for a master’s in art therapy; and
  • Have passed the Art Therapy Credentials Board Examination.

Art therapists will be required to renew their licenses every two years under the law.

“Art therapy can be a powerful approach to peace and healing for many in New Jersey – from veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder to children in abusive households and countless individuals in between – when other modes of expression aren’t enough,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Anyone who goes to an art therapist seeking help in our state will now be able to rest assured that they’re in the hands of a licensed professional.”

“In the same way that there are uniform standards for other health care professionals in New Jersey, this law will ensure that all art therapists in our state are qualified to practice,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “In addition to protecting clients, this licensure requirement will help give shape to a relatively young discipline.”

The law also creates a five-member Art Therapists Advisory Committee within the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety. Under the law, except for the members first appointed, the members shall be licensed art therapists and shall have been actively engaged in the practice of art therapy in the New Jersey for at least five years immediately preceding their appointment.

Among the inaugural members, to be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, two will serve for a three-year term, two will serve for a two-year term and the remaining member will serve for one year. All members thereafter will have three-year terms.

The committee shall have the following powers and duties:

  • Issue and renew licenses to art therapists;
  • Suspend, revoke or fail to renew the license of an art therapist;
  • Maintain a record of all licensed art therapists in New Jersey, including their place of business, place of residence and the date and number of their license;
  • Prescribe or change the charges for examinations, licensures, renewal and other services performed;
  • Establish standards for the continuing education of art therapists; and
  • Promulgate rules and regulations to carry out matters delegated to the committee by the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners concerning any provisions of the law.

The measure, which the governor signed into law on Monday, will take effect in July.