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Art Therapy professor Mary Andrus spearheads pivotal art therapy legislation

September 30, 2019

  • Mary Andrus
    Nina Johnson

Spearheaded and championed by Assistant Professor Mary Andrus, new legislation signed into law by Oregon Governor Kate Brown (JD ’85) earlier this year will create new licensure requirements and protections for art therapists practicing in Oregon. The new requirements go into effect on January 2, 2020. Current practitioners who have registered with the art therapy credentials board can begin to apply on December 2. 

“With the increasing need for mental health services, this new legislation protects the public to ensure that practitioners are appropriately trained and qualified to practice,” said Andrus, who directs Lewis & Clark’s rigorous art therapy program. The master’s degree program in art therapy is the only one of its kind in Oregon, one of the first 12 that were accredited in the last year, and one of only 34 programs in the country. “These new licensure requirements will make art therapy accessible to individuals who need the care the most and set standards for equitable reimbursement rates to licensed certified art therapists.”

Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within therapeutic relationships. Emerging in the 1960s and continually evolving, art therapy is a growing profession with its own body of literature, professional organizations, professional identity, and code of ethics. A growing number of states now license art therapists.

In Oregon, starting in 2020, art therapists who have their Registered Art Therapist (ATR) credentials will need to apply for the Licensed Art Therapist (LAT) license. This is required in order to practice, identify themselves as an art therapist, and refer to their work as art therapy. To obtain the license, practitioners will have to demonstrate completing 1,000 contact hours post-master’s degree, with at least 100 hours of supervision. 

To obtain the level of Licensed Credentialed Art Therapist (LCAT), practitioners must have their LAT license and also complete a board certification examination. This is the second level of the Oregon Art Therapy License. Continuing education will also be required. Licenses will be issued through the Oregon Health Licensing Office.

“As Oregon behavioral health providers face ongoing workforce struggles, licensing of art therapy not only supports the field of art therapy in Oregon, but broadens and supports the ability of BH employers to utilize an art therapist. It is a huge step forward for art therapy in Oregon and for our BH continuum of care,” said Heather Jefferis MA, executive director of the Oregon Council For Behavioral Health.

More information regarding credentialing is available from the Art Therapy Credentials Board.

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