Two people discussing music therapy recognition

What is Music Therapy State Recognition?

by Kimberly on January 12, 2011 · 8 comments

If you watched my video in last week’s post, you heard me throw around phrases like “State Recognition Operational Plan” (SROP) and “music therapy recognition.” But what does that mean exactly?

We’re in the middle of a special series this month all about music therapy advocacy and policy. This week, I’ll give you a brief description of the SROP and a history of how it came about.

But…before I dig in, I want to share links to other music therapy bloggers and podcasters who are joining this special project. Thank you for your support!

A Brief History of Music Therapy Recognition

It used to be that service professions were regulated at the federal level (and by “regulated”, I mean they were part of a licensure, certification, or registry system). But that began to change during the 1990s and the government recognition of professions started to shift towards the states. Don’t ask me why…as with almost any government process, I’m sure there were many reasons.

Music therapy is a profession that maintains a national board-certification credentialing program. It’s managed by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), which is charged with defining the body of knowledge that represents competent music therapy practice, as well as creating and administering the evaluation and continuing education of music therapists (and, yes, I took that from their website). CBMT has been fully accredited, and in good standing, with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies since 1986.

But I digress…

So music therapy is a national certification profession, but with the change in government policies, professions were beginning to be regulated at the state level. And this started to affect how our clients–and prospective clients–were able to access our services.

What is the State Recognition Operational Plan?

The SROP is a national initiative implemented jointly by CBMT and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). It was conceived in 2005 as the need for official recognition at the state level became apparent.

The SROP is a collaborative effort between the AMTA Government Relations and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff (I’m part of the latter). Our role is to provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as these groups of music therapists work to obtain state recognition of music therapy and the MT-BC credential. Believe it or not, we have about 30 active state task forces right now!

The SROP involves increasing awareness of what it means to be board-certified. The ultimate goal is that, in all situations, the MT-BC be a minimum requirement for music therapy to be provided. We also hope that music therapy will be included as a service option for our clients–whether it’s written into state agency regulations or determined by creating a state registry or licensing program–thus making it easier for them to access our services.

How Can I Help?

You can be involved in these efforts whether you’re a music therapist or not!

As a music therapist, here are some ideas for getting involved in this process, some with lighter time commitments than others:

  • Serve on a state task force
  • Attend your state music therapy meetings (if you have them)
  • Read and respond to emails from your state task force
  • Volunteer to help your state task force on projects (tasks will vary)
  • Initiate contact with your state legislator (sound scary? It’s really not. I’ll talk more about this next week)
  • View any opportunity to talk about music therapy as a chance to educate others about our profession and our board-certification

But what if you’re not a music therapist, but want to support us in these efforts? The biggest help would be for you to serve as an advocate for music therapy. This could involve giving testimony (say, if legislation is being considered), talking about your experiences to your legislator, or contacting your legislator and asking him/her to support music therapy legislation. If you’re interested in becoming a friend of music therapy, please contact me so I can connect you with the task force members in your state.

Do you have other ideas or questions? Please leave a comment in the boxes below! I always try to answer you đŸ™‚


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachelle January 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Thank you so much for this post and its concise explanation of what we’re seeking with the state recognition operational plan!

Ann Marie January 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Love this post, my husband and I had big discussions about this as I worked on my grad degree, forwarding it on to him!

Megan January 17, 2011 at 11:09 am

As a new music therapist it can be quite intimidating to think about getting involved with legislature. I know of many new professionals who are interested in helping, but don’t know where to start. This article was so helpful in explaining more about the State Recognition Operational Plan. Definitely cleared up a few questions I had.

Thanks for a great post!

Kimberly January 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thanks, Megan–so glad this post was helpful! You’re always welcome to ask me questions here, on twitter, on FB, or via email đŸ™‚ ~Kimberly

Kimberly January 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Great! Let me know if you have any other questions. ~Kimberly

Kimberly January 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

So glad this helped clear things up, Rachelle! It’s taken me several months to get it straight in my head as well đŸ˜‰ ~Kimberly

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