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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 12, 2017 11:29 AM
From: Representative Eddie Day Pashinski
To: All House members
Subject: Licensure of Professional Music Therapists under the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act

In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would license Professional Music Therapists and place them under the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.

The profession of music therapy formally began after World War I and World War II when live music was provided to veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals.

It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed clinical training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for an appropriate college curriculum. Today, in order to become a board certified music therapist, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, complete a 6-month internship, and pass the board certification exam by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Additionally, 100 continuing education credits must be obtained every five years to maintain board certification and music therapists are required to abide by the Code of Ethics established by the American Music Therapy Association.

Music therapy is an evidence-based healthcare profession that uses music as the stimulus to achieve specific therapeutic objectives. Music therapists serve clients with a variety of clinical needs, including persons with Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorders, cerebrovascular accidents (strokes), dementia, depression, developmental and intellectual differences, Parkinson's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illness, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, and more.

Through musical responses, music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills. After a treatment plan is developed, a music therapist implements music therapy interventions that may include: active music-making through instrument playing or singing, moving to live or recorded music, therapeutic singing, structured music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music performance, and learning life skills through original and individualized songs.

Research indicates the following benefits of music therapy treatment: an increase in antibodies (strengthens the immune system), a decrease in cortisol (the primary stress hormone), and a release of endorphins which in turn can improve mood while also decreasing pain and agitation. The clinical application of music has the potential to stimulate and improve a person’s physical, cognitive, social, personal, communication, and emotional development.

It is estimated that music therapists serve approximately 41,000 Pennsylvania residents each year. There are currently 9 PA universities offering bachelor’s through doctoral degrees in music therapy. In fact, PA houses the largest amount of higher education programs for music therapy in the country.

As a music teacher and performer for more than 38 years, I have personally seen the positive effects music has on individuals no matter their circumstances. Please join me in supporting this legislation to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania and to increase access to quality music therapy services.

Introduced as HB1438