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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 28, 2023 01:25 PM
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 (Former HB 2573)
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce 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 then implements the necessary 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. A music therapist is far more than being a talented musician.
Research indicates the benefits of music therapy treatment include: 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 and it is estimated that music therapists serve over 49,000 Pennsylvania residents each year.
Currently, there are 10 PA universities offering bachelor’s through doctoral degrees in music therapy. In fact, PA houses the largest number of higher education programs in the country for the profession of music therapy and yet, does NOT license the profession. The states of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, all neighbors to Pennsylvania, have passed licensure for music therapy. While New Jersey and Virginia are putting regulations together, Maryland has already licensed over 110 music therapists. Each of these states have 2 or fewer music therapy training programs. Maryland has one that started within the past 5 years.
With Pennsylvania having 10 higher education music therapy programs, most music therapists in these neighboring states were trained at a Pennsylvania institution. According to advocates, over 80% of Maryland LPMTs (Licensed Professional Music Therapists) were trained at a Pennsylvania institution. This fact demonstrates how PA is losing our own highly-trained music therapists to our neighbors – hurting both, our state’s patients & economy.
As a music teacher and performer for more than three decades, I have personally seen the positive effects music has on individuals no matter their physical or mental needs. Please join me in supporting this legislation to help protect the citizens of Pennsylvania by increasing access to quality music therapy services by our own PA professionals.

Introduced as HB1356