Sigh. As Cathy Malchiodi pointed out on her Facebook page today, it’s very disappointing to see that the US Department of Labor considers Art Therapists to be Recreation Therapists. Not Therapist or Mental Health Counselor. And of course, not just plain old Art Therapist. Art Therapy apparently can’t stand alone, like Marriage and Family Therapist, Counselor or Social Worker.
Oddly enough, according to AATA, Art Therapy is now a “distinct employment classification” according to the Department of Labor:
Apparently, according to AATA, the definition of a “distinct” profession is to simply be classified at all. But, the meaning of the words and the taxonomy used to describe any given thing defines how we perceive that thing. If Art Therapy is merely a sub-classification, then we’re on a path of public misconception. And once that path is forged is very difficult to gain back ground.
And, while I’m glad that Art Therapist made it onto the list of jobs recognized by the Labor Dept, it’s a blow to the profession that AATA did not come through for and Art Therapy classification that is worthy of the Art Therapy field. To be a certified Recreation Therapist you need a BA. All art therapists at minimum have an MA, and many are PhDs, with specializations in specific psychotherapeutic techniques to treat mental illness and trauma. I’ve worked with several rec therapists, and they all were fly by the seat of their pants when it came to clinical work (if they were even expected to do any clinical work)…because they were not trained in clinical work at the level of an Art Therapist or any other clinician for that matter.
I’m having trouble understanding AATA’s rationale for this decision. Is it that they’ll take what they can get and be happy to be included in the Labor Dept statistics at all? How can they justify Art Therapists needing an MA in order to practice if we’re lumped in with a profession that only requires a BA? Why are they ok with placing the Art Therapy profession on the wrong path? Is it not worth struggling for a longer period of time, but actually being a truly distinct profession, such as Marriage and Family Therapists?