Over the past 25 years, the art therapy profession has evolved and deepened its commitment to ensuring quality educational experiences and credentialing processes which promote the competency of art therapists and protection of the public.
Specifically, the ATCB was “born” in 1993 as a result of forward thinking art therapists who saw a broad picture of the future and the value of having a credentialing body that was separate from the professional membership organization.
The public and governing agencies may be assured by such independence that the ATCB’s focus is solely on competency and ethical standards for art therapists and the processes that are associated with assessing and assuring maintenance of such competency. Having two amazing art therapy organizations, the ATCB and the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), allows for both organizations to fulfill their complementary but distinct missions in promoting the profession of art therapy.
In the past 25 years, the ATCB has accomplished many important tasks. The ATCB supported the development and facilitation of the Art Therapy Board Certification Examination (ATCBE) and the first Board Certified Art Therapists (ATR-BC) came into existence in 1995. In 1999, the ATCB furthered their rigorous examination development in accordance with the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA) by hiring an external organization, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE) to assist us with that process. The ATCB first obtained NCCA accreditation in 2012 and has been successful in maintaining NCCA accreditation since that time. Accreditation demonstrates that we meet the highest standards established for a credentialing organization. Therefore, accreditation helps us build trust with all of our constituents: art therapists, employers, consumers, and state and governmental agencies who also aspire to protect the public. These accomplishments have enabled the ATCBE to be recognized as a means to establish art therapist competence; it is also accepted as a benchmark of competency in regards to licensure in several states.
However, the ATCB has not rested on these accomplishments. The ATCB has added the Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS), designating competency in supervision practices, and most recently established the Provisional Registered Art Therapist (ATR-P) for new graduates who are beginning to practice following completion of an educational program which meets the ATCB registration standards. Those who achieve the ATR-P, commit to supervision with supervisors that meet our credentialing standards and to the Ethics Code and Disciplinary Procedures as they gain professional experience.
In addition to identifying and filling credential voids, the ATCB regularly reviews credential standards to be sure they include the elements that assure that art therapy professionals are competent at all levels. Furthermore, the ATCB notes evolutionary changes in practice, such as the use of computers by practitioners to document and store client information, and the use of social media to educate, or advertise or connect with supervisors, and we update our Ethical Codes and Disciplinary Procedures to provide art therapists with ethical guidance.
The ATCB has much to celebrate in 2018. Currently, the ATCB has 3,437 Board-Certified credential holders who have successfully navigated credential and continuing education efforts. Additionally, we have 3,098 ATRs, 118 ATCSs, and 194 ATR-Ps. Join us in celebrating the 1,200 credential art therapists who have held their credentials for 25 or more years, we celebrate their long-term commitment to the ethical practice of art therapy as well.
Congratulations to all ATCB credential holders, short or long-term, who will continue to contribute to the competent practice and growth of the art therapy profession for the next 25 years and beyond.
Barbara-Parker Bell ATR-BC is currently the president of the ATCB and an Associate Professor and the Director of the Art Therapy Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida