Sunday, March 4, 2012

Detailed Analysis of GA State Licensure Bill for Music Therapy

GA Senate Bill 414

This bill will effectively establish a license to practice music therapy in the state of Georgia.  In response to efforts by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association to oppose this bill, I invite you to read the bill for yourself here.  

Although I am no fan of state by state licensure for music therapy, I have come to appreciate the inevitable need for such action or similar state recognition in order to protect our professional standards and improve prospects for third party reimbursement.  

The SB 414 is fairly straight forward as I read it.  It seems to me that ASHA is injecting some "red herrings" into the situation in order to derail the bill:

1.  ASHA  correctly points out the bill does not contain a description of the music therapy scope of practice.  But this really is a non-issue because the bill requires that only Board Certified music therapists can obtain licensure.  Scope of practice guidelines are easily available in the CBMT guidelines and therefore part of the license.  If a music therapist was to fail to follow the CBMT scope of practice, then he or she would lose certification and also licensure. 

2. ASHA implies that it is a problem that music therapists include assessing communication in their scope of practice.  --  Yes, as a music therapist, I assess communication skills.  So do teachers, parents, doctors, diagnosticians, and the list goes on.  In the same way that music therapists do not have a monopoly on the therapeutic use of music, speech therapists are not the sole practitioners of helping people with communication skills.  As with music therapists and music, however, I recognize that speech therapists certainly have expertise and training in using evidence-based practice in assessing and treating speech and hearing deficiencies.

3. ASHA accuses music therapists of using "speech therapy codes" to bill for services.  I do not have any personal knowledge or evidence to support or refute this claim.  Perhaps some of you reading this can clarify this or provide examples?  Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think there are technically "speech therapy" codes.  Perhaps there are codes that speech therapy typically uses, but I don't think these codes have ever been restricted for use by only one kind of health care provider.  

This whole situation seems to be a lot of misplaced opposition.  I hope that the national leaders now involved in this from AMTA and CBMT are able to meet with the people from ASHA and help resolve these issues.  I am on very good professional terms with all of the speech therapists I have ever worked with and I would like to keep it that way.   


  1. You are correct- no one profession "owns" any of the CPT codes.


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