Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Music Therapy State Licensure Reference List

In my previous post - Parents as Advocates - I mentioned that, within a growing number of states, there is an advocacy push for state licensure of music therapy.  There have been a number of media stories released about these efforts and I thought it would be worthwhile to compile a reference list; I have also included links to the actual Bills when available.  This is a working list and will be updated as articles appear.  Please leave a comment if you come across one I have missed!

Music Therapy: A Field That's Climbing the Scales (The Stony Brook Independent; December 14, 2011)
Music Therapy Practice Act
They've Got Rhythm; They Want Licensing (Aurora Sentinel; January 18,2012)

Music Therapist Licensure (Nevada Dept. of Health & Human Services)
Drumming Up Music Therapy NV Licensure Bill SB-190 (YouTube; March 12, 2011)
Senate Bill No. 190 - Senator Denis (2011)
Celebrating Music Therapy Licensures in 2011 (AMTA on YouTube; Nov 2011)

New York
Music Therapy: A Field That's Climbing the Scales (The Stony Brook Independent; December 14, 2011)

North Carolina
Music Therapy Moving Toward Licensure in State (Winston-Salem Journal; July 18, 2011)
Spotlight Falls on Music Therapists (Raleigh News and Observer; January 18, 2012)

North Dakota
Music Therapy Helps Facilitate the Field's First Licensure Law (UND, July 2011)
Celebrating Music Therapy Licensures in 2011 (AMTA on YouTube; Nov 2011)
Music Therapy: A Field That's Climbing the Scales (The Stony Brook Independent; December 14, 2011)

State Licenses for Music Therapists Would Benefit People Who Have Disabilities (Tulsa World; April 11, 2011)

South Carolina
Healing Sounds: Lyman Lawmaker's Bill Would Recognize Music Therapists (; January 17, 2011)
Bill 3093: Music Therapy Practice Act (2011-2012)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parents as Advocates

It's January, which means it is Social Media Advocacy Month in the music therapy cyber world.  Last year I wrote about advocating in our everyday lives. As I thought about what advocacy aspect to address this year, I found myself focusing on a question I often receive: How do I get music therapy services for my child with special needs?  

When you think about it, the answer lies in advocacy.

Here are ways in which parents advocating services for their child can also advocate for the field of music therapy.

Request an Assessment
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes music therapy as a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  However, there are still many educators and administrators who are unaware of this specification.  By requesting an assessment - the first step to receiving music therapy services - parents bring awareness to the field, create opportunities to educate the educators, and just may elicit overall program changes.  I received my first school-wide contract in part because one parent requested music therapy services for her child.

Invite Music Therapists to Speak
Most music therapists jump at the opportunity to speak about our field.  Parent support or advocacy groups are a great place to share information and gather additional advocates.  I am a firm believer in the policy of strength in numbers!

Contact Your Legislators
Currently, there are a number of states working for legislature establishing a state music therapy license.  This not only ensures clients are receiving the highest level of care from properly trained professionals, but it also strengthens the case for healthcare coverage of music therapy services.  Parent testimonials supporting the role of music therapy provides legislators with a tangible, human reason to join our advocacy efforts.

What other ideas do you have?  Are you a parent of a child with special needs; how have you been successful in advocating for services? Let us know, leave a comment below!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reflections

How did this year go so quickly?  Reading over my post from this time last year -
2010 Reflections, 2011 Aspirations - I have no idea where the time has gone!
Last year, I was getting ready to start our first session of Sing Play Grow, our inclusive early childhood music and movement program.  What I did not expect was receiving a call from the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Community Music School asking me to teach their early childhood music classes.  I have been doing both programs since the beginning of the year and, though it keeps me busy with some late nights, I have had the pleasure of working with some really great kiddos and families.  I look forward to lots more music play this coming year.

Not much changed with our school contracts, but, unfortunately, still little progress in expanding our program within our area hospitals.  However, I truly believe all the publicity surrounding the progress Representative Gabrielle Giffords made through music therapy will help with program proposals throughout a variety of populations and facilities.  Afterall, even NPR agrees it was a good year for music therapy (written in purple on the upper left-hand side)!

What's coming up for us in 2012, you ask? Well, that is TO BE CONTINUED, but in the meantime, enjoy this adorable performance by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

Wishing you a safe and very happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"There's So Much to Be Thankful For"

Last fall, inspired by a Michigan Music Therapists workshop presentation from music therapists Angie Snell and Laurel Rosen-Weatherford, I taught my adolescent and young adult special education students signs to accompany Josh Groban's Thankful (on the Noel album).  The students performed the piece at our annual holiday program in December and left very few dry eyes among the staff and parents in attendance.  For confidentiality reasons, I am not able to post the video of their performance, but I am able to share this video I recorded of myself during class; their classroom teachers used this video to help the students practice outside of our weekly session.  

I wish you all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving; you are all among the many blessings for which I am thankful. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reflections on the ABC News Gabby Giffords Special

Congresswoman Gabby Giffords received a standing ovation at her first appearance in the House of Representatives since her attempted assassination (Aug 1, 2011).
There is already quite a buzz throughout my social media streams regarding last night's Gabby Giffords special on ABC News.  I'd like to share my reflections on last night's special and why this news is so important for the music therapy discipline.

As most of you are aware, Gabrielle Giffords, a Congresswoman from Arizona, was shot in the head during an assassination attempt last January.  The bullet went through the left hemisphere of her brain, which is the side that controls our language processes and the motor functions for the right side of the body.  Gabby Giffords went through extensive rehabilitative treatment at TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston, TX.  As part of her treatment, she received and responded well to music therapy.  Due to her stature, her treatment has been followed closely by the media, including a feature by CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who spent time experiencing the various treatment disciplines.  Of his interactions with TIRR music therapist, Maegan Morrow, he noted, "I realized through music, she was working on developing my attention, memory and overall executive function."  Yes!  Exactly!

Having already had such wonderful media attention for Giffords' music therapy treatment, I was anxious to see what information the ABC News special would provide.  I am incredibly thankful to Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, for allowing ABC News to air their home video footage of her treatment.  They not only provided insight into the rehabilitation necessary following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but they also showed the human element of the story, as you can see her frustrations with not being able to say what she knows and also her joy and determination for triumph.  It is also easy to see the incredible love and connection between Giffords & Kelly. 

I was a bit disappointed that, during the 20/20 special, there was not a more in-depth explanation of music therapy and its use for treatment of TBIs.  During the special, they aired footage of music therapist, Maegan Morrow, working with Giffords, but they referred to her as a "therapist with the guitar" rather than explaining her credentials.  I was happy to discover that the follow-up Nightline did provide more information about the science of music therapy, including commentary by legendary neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks.  That footage can be seen in the clip Giffords Rebuilds Speech with Song.  I love Maegan Morrow's explanation of how music accesses multiple areas of the brain and music can be used like a highway "exit" to go around the blockage and get to where you need to go.  Another clip, including some unaired footage, can be seen online at Gabby Giffords: Finding Words Through Song

One noteworthy feature to point out about many of these clips is that you can see Giffords struggling for one, two-word responses, yet she is able to sing entire phrases.  This is a common occurence for individuals with aphasia; the musical context finds the pathways that the words alone can not.  Music can be used to teach the brain to use those alternate pathways to rebuild communication.

Gabby Giffords was only one of the victims of a horrible tragedy.  Though we would all rather this had not happened, I am pleased that the media is using this opportunity to focus and educate regarding TBI and the extensive and ongoing rehabilitation needed to survive and overcome these injuries.  I wish Gabby Giffords and many others struggling with a TBI continued success in their therapies and recovery.  I am also THRILLED to be a music therapist, using music to help others heal and develop each and every day.

Did you catch the special?  What were your thoughts?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping My Credentials

This weekend I tackled a very important item on my to-do list: I submitted my very first Application for Recertification to the Certification Board for Music Therapists.  Alas, it is not "once a music therapist, always a music therapist."  Rather, various obligations need to be fulfilled in order to maintain status as a board-certified music therapist. 

There are three main steps to initially becoming a board-certified music therapist: 1) complete an approved music therapy training program; 2) complete a six-month music therapy internship; and 3) successfully pass the music therapy certification exam.  An individual may then use the credential: MT-BC, meaning Music Therapist Board Certified. 

The music therapy certification cycle is five years.  At the end of each cycle, the music therapist must either take a recertification exam or provide documentation that he/she has completed at least 100 hours worth of continuing education credits within the five-year cycle.  I opted for continuing education credits, including graduate coursework, attendance at national and regional music therapy conferences, and other Continuing Music Therapy Education (CMTE) credits from workshops.

It's hard to believe I have been a certified music therapist for five years already.  Next up: renewing my teaching certificate!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Grieving with Autism

Today I learned that the father of a very special student passed away over the weekend.  This young man is incredibly intelligent and witty, but is limited in his ability to communicate due to autism.  He is very musical and, over the years I have worked with him, we have shared some very special moments.  I worked with this student today and I am convinced I saw the grief in his eyes.  We were in a group setting, so I chose to not openly address my observations, but I do believe that music therapy may play an important role in acknowledging and processing his loss.

This is a situation in which I do not have much experience.  Therefore, I ask you - my fellow music therapists, parents, and treatment team members - what methods have you found to be successful in helping an individual with autism to express, understand, and/or process grief?