Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Speech Therapists Unite Against Music Therapy??

Suddenly the American Speech-Language Hearing Association has come out against the state licensure bill for music therapy in the state of Georgia.  

You can read their call to action here.

I am not sure why this friction between AMTA and ASHA is bubbling up, but I think we should be active in trying to quell the notion that music therapy and speech therapy are somehow in competition with each other.  I have worked with speech therapists for many years and have the utmost respect for them!  I also feel like many of them have been pleased with my use of music to co-treat on targeted goals and objectives. 

Please talk to your colleagues in speech therapy and help them understand that we certainly do have a scope of practice and it does not infringe upon the scope of practice endorsed by ASHA.  Our friends in speech therapy will have to be informed so that they can battle the misconceptions from within their own organization.  

Is ASHA only concerned about their monetary turf and status?  What about the needs of the clients?  If the client will clearly benefit from music therapy, then why should music therapy not bill using appropriate insurance and medical codes?

Speech therapy is a large and well-respected profession.  There is no need for them to feel threatened by music therapy.  Perhaps the legislation before the Georgia lawmakers can be amicably revised instead of being rushed into open conflict?  



  1. That is SO aggravating! While I am required by my employer to carry ASHA certification, I have no respect for them as a professional agency. They are the main governing body for speech therapists, and, sadly, have a lot of pull in what the speech community chooses to believe and do. You asked: Is ASHA only concerned about their monetary turf and status?
    The simple answer to that is YES. They have a large groupf of lobbyists (who must be paid) and I feel as though they are threatened by other professions who may step on their toes when it comes to cross-treatment. (hence, why I am not a fan of them!) I intend to drop their crummy certification, which is not required to practice, as soon as I am able!
    Yes, I have a personal bone to pick with ASHA, but give them an inch and they will take a mile. I'll do some asking around at work and make sure our therapists aren't on board with this!

  2. Hi Andi! It sounds like this story really prompted some strong emotion! Your insight is very interesting and much appreciated. Thank you for being an advocate for music therapy and trying to promote more cooperation with us from within your profession! I wish you luck for both our sakes!

  3. Hello Daniel,

    I too have great respect for your field and LOVE our music therapist we work with at my school. I believe the concerns come from several different areas. First, I do think there is a financial concern in that school districts might hire a music therapist with a bachelor's at a lower salary rather than a slp with their masters, if the new scope of practice includes diagnostics and treatment of communication disorders.

    Secondly, I feel like as slps, we are required to have 6 years of college, an additional year of supervised therapy in the field and pass a rigorous national assessment to specifically address communication. The outline of the Georgia bill states music therapists be at least 18 years old, hold a bachelors degree or higher in music therapy from a program approved by the American Music Therapy Association, and have completed at least 1,200 hours in clinical training.

    I think our two fields complement one another beautifully and absolutely benefit the people we serve, but I don't feel that music therapists should have diagnosis of communication disorders fall within their scope of practice without extensive foundational classwork in their curriculum.

    Lastly, in the lovely arena of insurance, if music therapists are billing the same codes as slps, it will be a race to see who gets their services billed and covered first. It is frustrating for the therapists as well as the families.

    Thanks for opening up a respectful dialogue! If I am misinformed, please share more information that I can share with my colleagues as well.

  4. Thank you so much Heidi for your perspective! I am so glad that you have had good experiences working with music therapists in the school setting! It sounds like that you are advocating for more specific and well-defined language in the licensing bills for music therapy?

    As a music therapist who worked in the public school setting for many years, I did not ever diagnose communication disorders. I understand that diagnosing is not our area of expertise. I made contributions to the assessment effort as part of a multi-disciplinary team, but in my experience, the speech therapist and diagnostician did the official diagnostic work. I think this is standard professional practice for music therapists, so I would hope that would allay fears in the speech pathology profession.

    Soon, in the next 6-8 years, it looks like all music therapists will be required to have a Master's degree to graduate. This will help to level the playing field between therapies and hopefully differences in pay scales.

    As for billing insurance, I think the discussion so far has illustrated that no single profession is the "owner" of certain codes. This means that we will all have to come to some sort of an equitable agreement about billing. If both a music therapy assessment and speech therapy assessment demonstrate that a client will make significant improvement in communication skills, then I think the insurance companies should be expected to pay for both, regardless of what codes are being used. If that does not work out, then parents and clients will have to decide what they want to bill for.

    Thank you again Heidi! I appreciate the time you took to respond and your valuable insight! I hope that you will continue to read and comment!


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