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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: April 17, 2023 01:39 PM
From: Senator Elder A. Vogel, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: Licensure of Professional Music Therapists
I plan to reintroduce SB 1239 of last session that would license Professional Music Therapists and place them under the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.
To become a board-certified music therapist, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, complete 1200 clinical hours that includes a 6-month, full-time 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 including credits specifically related to ethics.
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 veteran’s suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), persons with dementia/Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, cerebrovascular accidents (strokes), mental health issues such as depression and anxiety; developmental differences including autism spectrum disorders, pain management, hospice, and end-of-life and more.
Music therapists assess and create treatment plans that use music interventions to achieve treatment goals.  Example goals may be to stabilize the gait of someone with Parkinson’s; restore/rehabilitate motor skills with stroke survivors; increase a premature infant’s oxygen saturation in the NICU; help a child with Autism sing “I love you” to their mother.  Music interventions 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. The clinical application of music has the potential to stimulate and improve a person’s physical, cognitive, social, personal, communication, and emotional development.
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.

Previous cosponsors of the bill include Senators: Brewster, Costa, DiSanto, Haywood, Hutchinson, Robinson, Schwank, Stefano, J. Ward, and A. Williams.
Please join me in supporting this legislation to ensure our constituents are getting quality care and to increase access to quality music therapy services.

Introduced as SB898