This short article gives a perspective on music therapy in the United States in 2006 from my viewpoint as current President of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). It outlines some of our concerns, plans, and developments at the present time. It also provides a picture of how music therapy is placed in our country, which has a comparatively long professional music therapy tradition and relatively large number of clinicians, researchers and educators.
The AMTA is now preparing for its 8th Annual Conference. It is hard to believe that eight years have already gone by since the unification of our two previous music therapy organizations NAMT (National Association for Music Therapy ) and AAMT (American Association of Music Therapy)in 1998. We had a highly successful conference last year in Orlando, Florida (November 2005). With over 1,300 attendees in the "play" capital of the US, we had a wonderful time. (This also gives a glimpse of the scale of music therapy practice here.) The Association continues to achieve many accomplishments, many of which have resulted from partnerships and networking cultivated over several years. Political climate, natural disasters, and membership requests tend to guide areas that we should emphasize in our strategic planning.
Music Therapy and the Hurricane Katrina Efforts was the biggest special project that AMTA had during the 2005 year. As many of you saw on news releases, New Orleans was absolutely devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Many music therapists and music therapy students were displaced by the hurricane and flooding in New Orleans. Students were assisted in finding other music therapy schools to attend and music therapists were carefully accounted for and damage assessed. Many schools "adopted" a student or a music therapist to send support, whether it was monetary support or replacing instruments and supplies. Indeed it was the national effort on the part of AMTA that helped many of our members to be able to cope with the devastation of the hurricane. The efforts are ongoing as not all music therapists are back in their original work environment.
As AMTA continues to grow and expand, the strategic plan becomes incredibly important. Currently, research is heading the agenda for a strategic plan. More and more our members need to be able to talk with insurance companies about reimbursement issues. This means that insurance companies may pay for the patient/client's therapy as part of a health plan. Inevitably, research is something that is requested by insurance companies as a basis for need. As our research base grows, so will our acceptance as an approved method of treatment. AMTA and CBMT (the Certification Board for Music Therapists) continue to work together to obtain recognition of the MT-BC credential on a state-by-state-basis. This fits in with our previous strategic priority of reimbursement as we strive to increase access to quality music therapy services by increasing the number of services that receive third party funding.
Please visit our AMTA web site www.musictherapy.org. It has been enhanced and successfully educates literally thousands of those interested in pursuing music therapy as a career, seeking music therapy services or seeking information about AMTA resources. The AMTA registration for our annual conference in Kansas City in November is now available online. Vice-President, Ronna Kaplan has planned a fabulous educational and professional experience. The program will again reflect the diversity of our membership. We should have over 160 sessions, 26 continuing education courses, 4 institutes and 2 special intensive courses. Our membership newsletter, Music Therapy Matters can also be accessed there. We continue to have a link to AMAZON.COM on our splash screen. If members or any viewers access AMAZON.COM through out website AMTA receives 5% of any purchases made.
The last ten to twenty years have seen an increased interest in the therapeutic uses of music in the United States. Out of this increased interest, a number of new professionals, therapists and practitioners have emerged. Examples of such groups include: Certified Music Practitioners, Music Thanatologists, Harp Therapists, Sound Healers, Arts Medicine Professionals, Medical Ethnomusicologists and others. The AMTA Board of Directors approved for the task force created last year to continue to examine these emerging groups and determine what, if any, impact this has on the practice of music therapy and the mission of AMTA to provide access to quality music therapy services. This task force is charged with investigating which groups exist and analyzing each one. CBMT has placed two members on this task force for purposes of collaboration.
The American Music Therapy Association is on the fast track to making music therapy a household word. Public education and the dispersion of accurate information is a goal of each music therapist who is a member of AMTA. My hope is that together we will make a difference in the lives of so many.
Hairston, Michelle (2006) Music Therapy in the United States. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 20, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country-of-the-month/2006-music-therapy-united-states