In America, music therapists are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, complete a six-month, full-time internship, and pass a national board certification exam to practice music therapy. Successful completion of the exam means these therapists hold the credential “MT-BC” (Music Therapist – Board Certified).
Music therapy national board certification is maintained in five-year cycles. During each cycle, music therapists must complete 100 continuing education credits. To put the intensity of this requirement into perspective, the incredible nurses serving patients in North Carolina hold state licensure which is renewed in two-year cycles. Their licensure board requires nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education credits for renewal (please note: this is not an exhaustive description of the renewal options for nurses).
Unfortunately, North Carolina does not have licensure in place for music therapists. Why is this unfortunate? While music therapists’ national board certification credentials show how highly qualified we are, these credentials do not provide protection to consumers from those who practice without meeting our qualifications.
This gap in protection is where licensure comes into play. A license for music therapists in North Carolina would ensure that those practicing are qualified to do so. A license would require that a professional with specialized knowledge and skills provides the music therapy services consumers receive. Practicing without a license would likely have financial and legal ramifications; licensure would, essentially, make it illegal for someone to practice music therapy without the education, clinical training, certification, and state license that music therapists would hold.
North Carolina music therapists have been advocating for state licensure for a few years. As we continue to do so, we hope consumers seeking music therapy services will find a board-certified music therapist in their area. To get in contact with a board-certified music therapist in your area, please feel free to contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or search the online database on the Certification Board for Music Therapists website (http://cbmt.org/certificant_search).
Allison G. Hingley, MM, MT-BC
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