With the introduction of the National Commission for Healthcare and Allied Healthcare Professionals Act, 2021, many questions have come up about the continuation of arts based therapy courses in the country and most of them remain unanswered. What is clear however is that in order to practice arts based therapy, one would have to take a programme that is approved by the authority established under the Act.
There are several certificate and diploma programmes offering the study of arts based therapy in the country and some of these are indeed very thorough and rigorous. However, in the absence of approval of such courses by the commission to be established under the Act, students would benefit from reviewing and understanding whether any programme they take will allow them to practice arts based therapy in India. This much is clear, that without taking an approved training, it would be illegal to carry on such practice in the country. Included in the ambit of the Act are occupational therapy, physiotherapy, recreational therapies and other creative therapies as well. With the focus of arts based therapy on all these areas, the fate of these courses is shrouded in doubt at present.
It is clear however that the Act does not apply to arts practice for outcomes other than health, wellbeing and therapy. Arts practices courses for teaching, welfare, activism, social inclusion, and for other similar outcomes are unaffected under the new law. The Arts Practices for Inclusion programme being offered by Prajnadhara is a compelling programme offering and seeks to achieve the much needed aim of having more socially inclusive spaces for children with needs and other vulnerable populations. The API and other such programmes will continue as these are not affected by the new law.