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All You Need to Know About the Designations Behind a Music Therapist’s Name

by Kimberly on October 12, 2011 · 3 comments

I got an email this week from fellow music therapist Dean Quick, who blogs at The Music From Within. Dean wrote:

I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of a list containing all the different professional designations a MT-BC may hold. I am curious of what is out there that I may not be aware of.

I didn’t know of such a list, so did some digging…and found absolutely nothing.

I could not find a single comprehensive list of all the various music therapy-specific designations and acronyms available. So what do I do? I decide to create my own.

The following list is divided into 3 broad categories: 1) national professional credentials, 2) state-level legislative designations, and 3) specialty training certifications. So let’s see what we have…

National Professional Credentials

These are what’s issued to a music therapist who has met certain educational and clinical training requirements and, according to today’s standards, has passed a national board certification exam. Currently, the only national certification offered is the Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) credential, which is awarded through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).

However, there are three other national credentials you may see out there. These certifications were awarded by our two former national organizations, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT). When these two organizations merged in 1998 to form the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), they decided to only use the MT-BC credential.

That said, you still may see a music therapist who is a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), issued by the former NAMT, a Certified Music Therapist (CMT), issued by the former AAMT, or an Advanced Certified Music Therapist (ACMT),also issued by the former AAMT. According to the 1998 merger agreement, these certifications will be valid until 2020.

State-Level Legislative Designations

These designations are issued and regulated by state governments and are generally either a license or a registry. There are currently 2 states that offer a Licensed Board-Certified Music Therapy (MT-BC/L) license, Nevada and North Dakota, and 1 state, Wisconsin, that offers a registry, the Wisconsin Music Therapist-Registered (WMTR).

There are certain states and situations in which a music therapist is eligible to apply for a non-music therapy state license and these are typically for music therapists who work in the mental health field. One example is the Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT) designation in New York. You may also see MTs who, in certain states and with some extra training, are eligible to apply to be a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). It’s important to remember, though, that these are not music therapy-specific designations.

Specialty Training Designations

There are certain trainings professional music therapists can take that will provide the MT with a designation that indicates they have taken the training. These are not “recognized” in the same way that board-certification and state licenses and registries are. But they are a nice indication of the specialization and interests of the music therapist.

Here are the specialty training designations I’m aware of, along with links to where you can do to find more information:

One final note: To avoid confusion between all these different designations, the AMTA last year outlined a policy whereby they suggest music therapists only list acronyms for their degrees, state-level legislative designations, and national credentials. Specialty training designations such as the ones listed just above are to be spelled out. You can read more about that policy by clicking the first link on this page.

So…did I miss anything? If so, please let me know by leaving a comment in the field box below.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Quick October 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for this wonderful post and clarification! Thanks for the link as well. 🙂
Dean Quick´s last blog post ..New Musics…

JoAnn Jordan October 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

Thank you for providing this reference list to which we can direct people!
JoAnn Jordan´s last blog post ..Pop (a sing-along) into the movies

Jan Mercer February 20, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I am in a Masters program to become and LPC. Can I get any kind of Music therapy certification without a degree in music?

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