This past Wednesday, I got the opportunity to take a trip back to my home state of South Carolina and spend it with some amazing music therapists. The Music Therapy Association of South Carolina (MTASC) spent the day advocating for the music therapy profession by talking to South Carolina legislators about the music therapy profession and the importance of licensure.
So why are music therapists of South Carolina spending their day asking their state legislators to take notice of the profession of music therapy? Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board of Music Therapists have created a State Operational Plan. The goal of the plan is to have music therapy represented in every state. Some states have found that a music therapy registry has been significant enough to represent the profession whereas other states (such as Georgia) found that licensure is the best way.
So why is licensure important you ask? Well, music therapists want to provide services to anyone who wants/needs music therapy. Some insurance companies do not cover music therapy, forcing clients to dig deep into their pockets to pay for music therapy services. Licensure would give music therapists and clients other opportunities for reimbursement for music therapy services. The second reason states are seeking licensure is for title protection. Currently there is nothing stopping anyone from calling himself a music therapist even if that person doesn’t have the 1200 clinical training hours and board certification. Music therapists do not want the wonderful people who sing songs and play instruments in nursing homes and hospitals to stop what they are doing. The profession would just like to keep the title of music therapist to those who have completed the professional requirements of the profession.
Twenty-five music therapists were present for South Carolina’s hill day. My favorite sight of the entire day was witnessing the teams that were formed: There was a ratio of one student to one professional. It was great to see the students so involved within their states organization and advocating for their future profession. The hill day began with a continuing education course about the history of the State Operational Plan as well as tools for talking to the state legislators about the music therapy bill. Following the morning gathering, the music therapists met in front of the Capitol Building with a list of representatives to talk to about the importance of the SB 277 also known as The Music Therapy Act. The afternoon was spent talking to senators and house representatives about what music therapy is and why the music therapy bill is important.
I am grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of my home state’s hill day. The representatives that I got the chance to speak with seemed to be receptive of the information we shared and offered helpful advice for the political life of bills in South Carolina. I am so proud of all the wonderful work being done by the South Carolina music therapy task force, the professionals who took time out of their work schedules to be present, as well as the future of our profession, the students, to be present in the future of the music therapy profession.