Scope of Music Therapy Practice

Scope of PracticeIn 2015, CBMT and AMTA got together and created the Scope of Music Therapy Practice. I haven’t had a chance to look closely at this document yet, so I’m taking the opportunity to do so now.

The document is 8 pages long (2 are lists of references) and has 9 sections, plus a disclaimer paragraph about how this document is a resource and not legal advice.

  • Preamble
  • Definition of Music Therapy and Music Therapist
  • Assumptions
  • Music Therapy Practice
  • Potential for Harm
  • Definition of Governing Bodies
  • Education and Clinical Training Requirements
  • Board Certification Requirements
  • References

The Preamble explains what the document is and gives the Statement of Purpose. The Scope of Practice defines the range of responsibilities for which a board certified music therapist is qualified. It outlines the education, training, skills, and experience for qualified music therapists to practice safely and ethically, and identifies the potential for harm by those without music therapy training.

The Definition of Music Therapy and Music Therapist is from the official AMTA definition and states that a music therapist is someone who completed the educational requirements and is board certified.

The Assumptions list the values that music therapy practice is assumed to be based on: non-maleficence, beneficence, ethical practice; professional integrity, respect, excellence; and diversity and lists the foundation assumptions for the document:

  • Public protection: MTs will practice competently, safely, and ethically
  • Requisite training and skill sets: MT includes professional and advanced competencies and the MT will only provide services for which s/he has been trained
  • Evidence-based practice: MT is guided by research; the client’s needs, values, and preferences; and the expertise of the MT.
  • Overlap in services: other professionals may use music, so long as it’s within their scope of practice
  • Professional collaboration: MTs will make referrals to other professionals as necessary
  • Client-centered care: MT respects the client’s needs, values, and preferences and involves the client in the treatment planning process

Music Therapy Practice defines music therapy again and states that MTs develop music therapy treatment plans to meet the needs of the client, in 1:1 or group therapy. Interventions may include: music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, singing, music performance, learning through music, music combined with other arts, music-assisted relaxation, music-based patient education, electronic music technology, adapted music intervention, and movement to music. MT practice may be in developmental, rehabilitative, habilitative, medical, mental health, preventive, wellness care, or educational areas. The music therapy process includes referral, assessment, developing a treatment plan that includes goals and objectives, implementing the treatment plan, evaluating the client’s response to MT, terminating MT appropriately, reducing barriers to MT, collaborating with other treatment team members, and using knowledge and skills to inform practice.

The Potential for Harm section reiterates that MTs are trained to analyze client skills and behaviors, and their responses to music and non-music stimuli to be effective and to refrain from contra-indicated practices. MTs are trained to evaluate the client’s responses and adapts the intervention to protect the client from negative outcomes. MTs participate in continuing education and know their limitations in professional practice. It also lists the documents that define safe and ethical practice: AMTA Code of Ethics, AMTA Standards of Clinical Practice, CBMT Code of Professional Practice, CBMT Board Certification Domains, and other applicable state and federal laws. Music therapists comply with safety standards and competencies such as:

  • Recognize and respond to situations in which there are clear and present dangers to a client and/or others.
  • Recognize the potential harm of music experiences and use them with care.
  • Recognize the potential harm of verbal and physical interventions during music experiences and use them with care.
  • Observe infection control protocols (e.g., universal precautions, disinfecting instruments).
  • Recognize the client populations and health conditions for which music experiences are contraindicated.
  • Comply with safety protocols with regard to transport and physical support of clients.

The Defining Governing Bodies section explains the missions of AMTA (education and clinical training) and CBMT (credentialing and continuing education) and how they work to develop and maintain professional music therapy practice.

The next section outlines the Education and Clinical Training Requirements for music therapists and lists the AMTA qualifications. This is followed by the Board Certifcation Requirements outlined by CBMT.

All music therapists, in my opinion, should review the Scope of Practice, and the other documents governing our work, annually, so that we may keep these requirements fresh in our minds as we advocate for music therapy.