Is Your Music Therapist Board Certified AND Licensed?

For those readers who have been with us since last year, you most likely know that I served on our state task force seeking state recognition for music therapists in Georgia. Our efforts at the Capitol were rewarded when our music therapy licensure law passed both houses and was signed by Governor Deal on May 1, 2012. By January 1, 2014 ALL MUSIC THERAPISTS WORKING IN GEORGIA MUST BE LICENSED TO PRACTICE!

This is an exciting time because it means that for the first time the state of Georgia will require the Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) credential as the minimum requirement to practice music therapy in our state. That’s not to say that someone who is not a music therapist can’t play music in a hospital, school, or rehab setting. Of course they can! And should! The music therapy licensure law simply outlines that music therapists have completed specialized degrees, 1200 clinical training hours, and a board certification exam in order to effectively treat clients. And it means that YOU as the consumer have access to higher quality services and can rest assured that your therapist is knowledgeable in using music to attain non-musical therapeutic goals. Not to mention, all licensed MT-BC’s must complete a background check. Duh.

In fact, the Georgia Secretary of State has appointed a music therapy advisory group to lead the way in regards to rules and regulations for music therapists in the state. The advisory committee is made up of 3 music therapists, 1 consumer, and 1 medical professional. I am honored to serve on the advisory committee and happy to report that we just had our first meeting last week! The consumer and medical professional serving on the board have had extensive experience working with other licensing boards and seemed genuinely interested in helping us navigate the growth of our profession. After being sworn in, we outlined some very important items for music therapists in Georgia. For instance…

  • In Georgia, music therapists can start applying for their licenses on August 15th 2013.
  • Applications must be snail mailed (can you believe it?). They must be notarized and sent with a check or money order, background check, and proof of residency and citizenship. Also, licensees must request that the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) email proof of certification to the licensing division of the Secretary of State.
  • The license must be renewed every 2 years.

So, next time you looking to hire a music therapist, why don’t you ask to see their credentials?

The George Center is proud of the fact that all of our music therapists are board certified and will be licensed by the end of the year. Call us to consult with a credentialed music therapist today!

 

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Nothing Could Be Finer Than A Hill Day In South Carolina

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.

4 Ways You Can Advocate to Your Government

This is definitely an exciting time for music therapy advocacy, especially here in Georgia, and our GCMT friends and families are no strangers to just how far-reaching their advocacy efforts can be. In early 2012, we all came together in a grassroots effort to support the passing of SB 414 for Music Therapy Licensure, and saw firsthand that no act of advocacy is too small. Client families and healthcare professionals inundated their legislators with emails, phone calls, and testimonials. An intrepid team of music therapists beat feet all over the Georgia State Capitol building to educate people about their profession. The Georgia Music Therapy Task Force worked tirelessly for months on end, attending a multitude of meetings and hearings, and maintaining communication with organizations, legislators, and other music therapy professionals and advocates across the country. Through these combined efforts, we finally saw the passing of SB 414, making Georgia the 3rd state in the country to pass a bill for music therapy licensure!

Whether your state has recently passed a bill for music therapy licensure, is in the process of doing so, or has a newly formed task force, the time is always right for advocacy on any level. There are a few steps you can take to connect and communicate with your state legislators.

 1. Know who your legislators are.

You can find them and their contact information by going to www.votesmart.org and entering your zip code.

2. CONNECT!

Whether it be by phone, email, social media, or a face to face meeting, it is important to let your legislator know you are their constituent.

3. Communicate

You may not have to limit yourself to 140 characters (unless you follow them on Twitter!), but your legislators will have many issues vying for their time, so it is important for your communications to be concise, factual, and to-the-point.

4. Follow Up

Keep the lines of communication open, answer questions, and look for opportunities to invite them to see music therapy in action!

So, whether you are advocating at your state capitol or in the school carpool line, if you are able to share any information about what music therapists do, where they work, and how music therapy can benefit others, then you have advocated successfully.

Happy Advocating!

Ready to get started with music therapy?  Contact us today and let us tell you more about what we do!