As an art therapist and educator, I have a special fondness for the term life-long learner. Indeed, part of the exciting journey of being an educator is that there are numerous opportunities to expand one’s knowledge base while supporting the learning of others. Yes, I have voluntarily signed up for more reading, writing, and research each academic year, no arm twisting required.  I am not alone. My experience has been that art therapists are enthusiastic ongoing learners who are intrinsically motivated.

Art therapists continue to learn new information and approaches to feed and nurture themselves and their clients. Still, some external motivation can also keep us on track when enthusiasm wavers, when we are tired, or when we may wonder, why we should continue our educational efforts?  Client welfare is one motivation; Board Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC) and Art Therapy Certified Supervisor (ATCS) continuing education credits (CECs) recertification requirements can serve as another. In this blog article, I will provide readers with an overview of the importance of CECs, identify who is required to complete CECs, clarify when and what credential holders must submit to the ATCB to comply with standards, and note the ATCB resources that will help you understand continuing education requirements, timelines, and processes.

Who Needs to Accrue CECs and How Many?  To keep this simple, as of this date, if you have the ATR or the ATR-P Credential you are not required to take continuing education credits (CECs); however, you are strongly encouraged to engage in educational activities to expand your learning and skill sets. Board Certified Art Therapists and Art Therapy Certified Supervisors must recertify every 5-years and must accrue 100 CEC hours over each 5-year period.  Since all ATCS credential holders also hold the ATR-BC credential, the specific requirements for ATCS (10 hours of CEC in supervision theory and techniques) is synchronized with ATCB recertification cycles and these supervision-oriented CECs may be included in the 100 hours of CECs submitted for the ATR-BC recertification.  The ATCB website section, Maintaining your Credential, is a great resource to explore for requirements details. Admittedly, 100 hours may seem like a lot to account for, but fortunately, you can keep track of all of your CECs as you earn them using the My Recertification Tracker feature on the ATCB website via the MyATCB portal.

What:  The ATCB has established content areas that may be approved for continuing education credits.  These areas include; psychological and psychotherapeutic theories and practice; art therapy assessment; art therapy theory and practice; client populations and multicultural competence; art therapy and media; professional issues (including supervision, building a private practice, and art therapy and social justice) and ethics.  For each 5-year cycle, credential holders need a minimum of 6 CECs in the area of ethics. Additionally, the ATR-BC Recertification Standards provide you with the types of activities that qualify for continuing education credits. These qualifying activities include attendance and participation at professional workshops, authoring an art therapy article that appears in a peer reviewed journal, exhibiting art in a juried exhibition, and more.  See the recertification standards for more details about types and limits of activities that can be included as part of your 100 hours of CECs.

When:  Since credential holders have achieved the milestones of becoming ATR-BC and ATCS during different years, not everyone will be due for recertification at the same time. Your personal credential holder record and timeline is available to you via your MyATCB portal.  Log in, take a look, and you will find your recertification date.  If you have any questions about the date that appears in MyATCB, please contact the ATCB national office at

The ATCB staff members are happy to help you.  Of course, the ATCB staff will automatically remind you of your upcoming recertification date by sending you notification at least 90 days in advance of your recertification deadline.  Each year, the due date for required recertification materials is June 1st.

Where:  Art therapy credential holders frequently ask where they may find CECs and which educational events and programs may be qualify for CECs accepted by the ATCB. When looking for eligible courses or events, a good rule of thumb is to seek courses or events that are presented or approved by any of the following art therapy, mental health, or behavioral science entities: state licensing authorities, national professional organizations, or national credentialing body for continuing education credits.  Examine conference, program, and course literature to identify the organization that is approving the event. Approval body information should be front and center on event websites or brochures. When in doubt, ask the provider and/or the ATCB national office, before you sign up for an educational opportunity.

Why:  As mentioned above, taking continuing education credits is part of the 5-year recertification process that is necessary to maintain your credentials. Alternatively, you may recertify by re-taking the Art Therapy Credentials Board Exam (ATCBE) and earning a passing score.  However, most credential holders do not prefer the exam alternative. Recertification, based on CECs or ATCBE completion, ensures that you continue to meet the high standards associated with this credential through being current in “the knowledge and skills necessary to demonstrate proficiency in the field, in order to protect the public” (ATCB, 2013). Ethically, we must continually strive to add to our knowledge base to serve clients with best known art therapy practices.  Please review the ATCB Code of Ethics Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, Code 3.1, Compliance with ATCB Standards, Policies and Procedures which formally notes that credential holders must meet requirements for credential renewal.

Now that I have reviewed the who, what, when, where, and why’s of recertification, it is clear that there are many reasons for taking Continuing Education Credits: complying with credentialing standards, improving your skills, and serving your clients well. Sign up for your CECs proudly and call yourself a life-long learner. Your clients will thank you.


Written by:

Barbara-Parker Bell
Past President-Art Therapy Credentials Board