Misconceptions Considered: State Recognition and Masters-Level Entry

by Kimberly on April 11, 2012 · 8 comments

If you’re a music therapist–student, intern, or professional–chances are you have heard that the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is considering a move to make music therapy a Masters-level entry field. This process includes committee reports, opportunities for member comment, townhall meetings at the regional conferences…lots of opportunities for music therapists to share their thoughts, opinions, and questions on the matter.

I have some fellow music therapy bloggers and friends who have written on this topic, but I myself have gone back and forth about it. I had originally intended not to share any thoughts. But I changed my mind recently when reading information on some Facebook threads about the connection between Master’s level entry, state recognition, and reimbursement.

But first…some disclaimers…I am not writing today as a spokesperson for CBMT. However, I am writing based on my experiences and what I have learned working in regulatory affairs.

I am also not going to weigh in on whether I think the profession should move to Masters level entry or not. I am simply going to try and clarify some misunderstandings about the connection between Masters level entry, state recognition, and reimbursement.

Now that that’s out of the way…what I’ve been reading and hearing about is the idea that becoming a Master’s-level entry profession will help with our state recognition efforts and will help us get reimbursement for music therapy services. In my experience, that’s simply not true.

Our state recognition efforts are seeking to get our profession recognized as is, with our established and evolving educational, clinical training, and board certification requirements. It is not dependent on having a grad degree. Just ask the music therapists in Nevada and North Dakota.

What makes our state recognition efforts work is the blood, sweat, and tears of the amazing state music therapists who are pounding the pavement, talking to their state legislators and agency officials, spending time at their state capitol, testifying at hearings, emailing and making phone calls, and passing our flyers.

A grad degree does not matter for state recognition. What matters is the quality work we do, the difference we make in people’s lives, and the grassroots networking and advocacy that happens.

In addition, having a Master’s degree does not impact reimbursement success. Waivers and 3rd party reimbursements apply to the goals we address, independent of whether we have a graduate degree or not. What likely will impact reimbursement success is state recognition…and, well, you’ve already heard my thoughts about the link between Master’s level entry and state recognition.

There is a lot to consider in this possible move and I am encouraged by the dialogue, questions, and comments I am hearing and reading. It seems to me to be a very healthy dialogue to have as we consider the possibilities for the future of music therapy.

If you have any questions or comments of your own to share, I invite and welcome you to share them in the comments section below or, if you’d rather not be so public, feel free to email me: ksmoore@cbmt.org


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