What is Music Therapy, and what is #FLMusicTherapy week? Why is Florida filing for a Music Therapy Registry? What will the new Registry look like?
Music Therapy (MT) is an allied healthcare profession serving the unique needs of individuals with a wide range of skills and abilities, needs and limitations. Music therapists use music and a therapeutic relationship as tools to accomplish non-musical, clinical objectives for the young, adult, and elderly across social, emotional, cognitive, and physical domains of wellbeing. We are highly trained therapists working in special education, neuromuscular rehab, general medical, skilled nursing, end-of-life care, and much, much more.
What does NOT distinguish our field are the diverse clients we work with or the individualized objectives we help them to accomplish. Indeed, we collaborate with (and work towards similar goals as) speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, school teachers, medical doctors, and other professionals as part of an interdisciplinary treatment team. What DOES distinguish MT is the research-based application of music through a therapeutic relationship with a board-certified professional. Although you may be a brilliant musician with good intentions, you can not provide music therapy, just like an expert runner can not practice physical therapy.
The NCCA accredited credentials of Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC) are trusted only to those who have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in MT from an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved university program; completed 1,200 hours of clinical internship; and passed the national board certification exam. Credentials must be maintained through Continuing Music Therapy Education or re-testing each 5-year cycle. Despite our expanse of research literature; rigorous training standards; and history of serving veterans, adults with intellectual disabilities, children with special needs, and an ever widening circle of clinical populations, there remains a great need to educate the public about this healthcare profession that has over 65 years of clinical history in the United States.
January is the Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month. Florida celebrates the final week in January as our own #FLMusicTherapy Week. Across the year and especially this week, clinicians, colleagues, clients, families, business owners, legislators, are all encouraged to advocate for music therapy online and in-person. Share vignettes, facts, and graphics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #FLMusicTherapy. Follow Florida’s political task force on Facebook!
The state of Florida is the proud home of three distinct university programs, with over 290 alumni and incoming professionals providing more than 36,000 hours of service per year to Floridians, in at least 450 different facilities. The field of MT is small, but highly effective and growing in demand.
2016 Music Therapy Registry
As more constituents learn about MT, there is greater recognition that loved ones will benefit from qualified services. Families seek MT for their children or elder parents. Hospitals seek to improve patient satisfaction. Hospices want to improve quality of life. Rehabilitation centers want their patients to walk and talk. Assisted living facilities want their residents to sing though some may no longer speak. Schools want children to learn more effectively and behave more appropriately, including those with a spectrum of diagnoses.
Access to MT services is currently limited, but it is very important that clients seek an authentic MT-BC, not a well-intentioned musician. Misrepresentation of MT and unregulated practice poses greater risk of harm to vulnerable populations. Yes, music can be naturally soothing and therapeutic, but it can also be painful, stressful, and harmful. Music is processed throughout the entire brain, so it must be applied through a relationship with a credentialed practitioner who can use this powerful tool towards health and well-being. There is great danger when untrained musicians overstimulate premature infants in the NICU, when they do not know infection control procedures in the hospital, or when they attempt to treat war veterans struggling with post traumatic stress.
Florida should recognize the title “Music Therapist” to ensure the safety of its citizens and increase access to quality MT services. Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 571 are identical title protection bills simultaneously introduced to the Florida Legislature. SB 204 / HB 571 seek to establish a state registry of music therapists. SB 204 / HB 571 will regulate the profession through the Department of Health (DOH) “to recognize that music therapy affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public, and that the practice of music therapy should be subject to regulation to protect the public from the practice of music therapy by unregistered persons.” Board-certified music therapists living in the state of Florida will simply register and renew their status every two years, with fees not to exceed $50. Everyone holding MT-BC credentials can register; misrepresentation and unqualified practice is prohibited.
At the time of publication, SB 204 has already unanimously passed the Senate’s Health Policy committee and is now in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and being read by the final committee, Health Policy. In the House, HB 571 also unanimously passed its first stop in the Health Quality Subcommittee. HB 571 is now in the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and read by Health Quality Subcommittee.
Write your legislators and let them know why you support SB 204 / HB 571! We still need support in each committee, full floor votes, and the governor’s signature. Post your stories and testimonies online! Encourage your clients and colleagues to testify on the efficacy of Music Therapy! Contact the task force on Facebook or by e-mail to ask how else you can help! Join our 2016 Hill Day on Tuesday, Feb. 2nd as we advocate MT in the Florida State Capitol!