Friday, February 21, 2014

Coming to a Health Care Plan Near You... HDHSA, or High Deductible Health Savings Account.

What is behind the rise in these plans?

-although they have been around for a decade, the recent increase in the availability of these plans is due to the Affordable Care Act.  Why?  Because it can save employers money.  That's the bottom line.

So why do employers suddenly need to save money on health plans?

-the affordable care act makes insurance plans more expensive in general.  If you haven't been following the reasons behind this, please start hereIn short, plans now have to cover all kinds of wellness benefits, maternity care (whether you are male or female), etc.  They also cannot deny insurance for pre-existing conditions and there is no lifetime limit on payouts from the insurance company.  So the insurance companies are charging more in order to stay in business.  Hence, companies (and employees) get to pay more for their plans.

 Does an HDHSA plan save an employer money?

-yes.  It basically shifts more of the cost to the employee.   
 Does an HDHSA save YOU money?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Music Therapy and Parkinson's: A Slide Presentation

Here are the informational slides that we used for a presentation to the Winchester Area Parkinson's Support Group.  Dr. Anne Lipe and I would like to extend our thanks to this group for their invitation and hope that we were able to share some valuable information about the latest research regarding music therapy and Parkinson's disease.  

As part of the presentation we also did some interactive music activities drawn from the research literature, but not listed in the slides or this post.  While I am not an expert in using music therapy with this population, I find it fascinating and well worth consideration.  


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Music Therapy Advocacy All Year Round!

Although I officially missed music therapy advocacy month, perhaps I can tie the bow around the effort here on February 1st! 

Kudos to Kimberly Sena Moore for keeping this tradition going every year! This is a great way to remind ourselves of how we must continue the efforts to promote and educate regarding music therapy. I don't think a day goes by that I haven't had the opportunity to explain music therapy to someone! 

Do you have your "elevator" definition of music therapy ready to go?? What about neat stories to tell when you get the chance to talk to someone for a bit longer on a plane or a waiting room? And have you written or called your state and national political representatives recently to remind them about music therapy? 

Here is a message from Dr. Dena Register regarding the theme for music therapy advocacy month in 2014: "We are..." 

Welcome to 2014: Declaring Our Independence 

Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC
Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Certification Board for Music Therapists

The end of the year always brings with it a great deal of reflection. It feels good to look at the accomplishments of the year at its close, set new intentions and imagine new heights for the year ahead. My own professional reflections for this year brought the realization that over the last eighteen years I have enjoyed a rather diverse career in music therapy with roles as a clinician, educator, consultant and professional advocate. One of the most interesting components of wearing so many different “hats” is trying to imagine how those you are working with perceive music therapy.

There is a constant effort to try and imagine how I can best help others understand what music therapy is and the many benefits for our clients. I feel the need to have an analogy for every situation, description, and population. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this challenge. I know many music therapists that adapt in this chameleon-like fashion when it comes to how we describe our life’s work. We build rapport with our various audiences by searching for some common ground or understanding to use as a point of departure in hopes that they will have that magical “A-ha!” about the many benefits of music therapy. While these experiences help us develop remarkable skills in story sharing and empathy, we are constantly altering the description of our professional identity in order to help others understand us. This task is a complex one for professionals and is one of the challenges that both students and new professionals find difficult to navigate early on in their careers.

I get to teach a class in philosophy and theory of music therapy. Over the last several offerings of this course the students and I have spent hours exploring what music therapy has in common with other therapeutic and creative arts professions. Each semester produces fascinating discussions, diagrams and reflections on the shared aspects of our professions and, more importantly, how music therapy is notably distinct from any other profession or practice. Successful participation in our profession is reliant upon years of skilled musicianship, and a balance of both scientific and artistic knowledge and understanding. It is highly unlikely that an individual who does not have any prior musical training can make their way through varied and rigorous coursework of a music therapy degree and successfully complete the academic, clinical and musical requirements needed.

In the sixty-plus year development of our profession we have learned to be both flexible and savvy in our descriptions of music therapy. These well-honed skills have built a foundation for our profession to grow and expand in ways we didn’t think possible. And, in most recent years, our advocacy efforts have brought us to a place of greater acknowledgement and public awareness than we have ever experienced before. What comes next? It is the era of INDEPENDENCE.

With an increased focus on research about the numerous impacts of music as a therapeutic medium, greater access to quality services by licensed professionals and continuously growing clinical offerings music therapy is positioned for continued, exponential growth. Now is the time for continued clarification to others regarding who we are as a profession as well as our unique qualifications. In 2014, it is imperative that we declare “I am a music therapist” and understand how to articulate our unique qualifications and distinctions from our other therapeutic partners. How will YOU celebrate your ‘independence’ this year?

About the Author: Dr. Dena Register is the Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists and an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Kansas. She can be reached at

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