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GROWING THE PROFESSION: THE ART THERAPY CREDENTIALS BOARDS PERSPECTIVE – PART I

Michelle Dean

What are all those letters after your name? is a frequent question I am asked, to which I often jest I have more letters after my name than in it. In a long-overdue, two-part installment of the blog, I will not only explain what all those letters mean, but also convey some significant changes that the granter of the credentials, The Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB), is making. Deborah A. Good, ATCB President and Rita Maloy, Exective Director, were very generous to grant an interview to discuss the vision for the future of art therapy from the ATCB’s perspective. The ATCB is an organization that credentials art therapists.  Credentialed art therapists must prove competency and are accountable to ATCB in terms of maintaining ethical standards of practice. The organization has recently unveiled an update of opportunities for becoming a registered art therapist (ATR), as along with a new certification for supervisors, the Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS). Additionally, the ATCB plans to apply for accreditation of the ATR-BC through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) later this year.

Historically, it has been difficult, and at times impossible to obtain the highest level of credential as an art therapist if one did not attend a graduate art therapy program, even if education and experience were comparable. This may have repelled professionals who hold licenses and credentials in related fields who were unwilling to return for another master’s degree for which some, or much, of the coursework would be redundant. In my opinion, it also implied an arbitrary exclusivity without consideration to competency based on education, supervisory, and experience criteria. As of January 1st, new and welcoming opportunities to become a credentialed art therapist will be made possible through the single application process, which includes several routes of demonstrating art therapy educational standards; all of which focus on coursework, supervision, and experience and thus, promote greater inclusively and diversity for credentialed art therapists.

The same coursework in specific content areas is expected of all applicants (as cited in the fall 2010 ATCB newsletter) and as David Gussak, PhD, ATR-BC, highlighted at this years Coalition of Art Therapy Educators (CATE) meeting at the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) Conference in Sacramento.  The traditional route, is one in which the individual graduates from an AATA approved graduate program.  These new graduates may pursue 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and are eligible to apply for the Art Therapy Registration (ATR) upon completion. The second and third credentialing avenues for graduates of non-approved AATA programs allow application for the ATR after 1,500 hours and 2,000, respectively, of supervised clinical hours with the ratio of supervision hours to clinical hours remaining the same (10:1) for all three types of applicant.  The greatest difference includes consideration for volunteer work (instead of paid work) at a 2:1 ratio and that clinical hours may be accrued through the applicant’s private practice, ONLY if the applicant holds a license in another mental health discipline.

Additional information about the Art Therapy Certified Supervisor Credential (ATCS) and the application with the NCCA will follow. You may watch the ATCB website for updated information regarding the material presented in this article.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts regarding the new ATCB application routes? Does greater inclusively appeal to you?

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