You wouldn’t think to ask your physical therapist, speech therapist, or occupational therapist: “Are you certified?”, “Have you maintained certification through your national and state association?”, or “Can I see a copy of your resume?” etc. You assume that the professional you are seeking services from is qualified and competent in their line of work. Unfortunately, music therapists have a national certification and credential that is not consistently recognized from state to state.

Music therapists nationwide are striving for licensure, state recognition, or title protection to prevent harm or unsafe practices. Without this protection, others could claim they are providing “music therapy services” and commit fraud. The state of South Carolina has Bill SB 589 to rectify this situation and make history. For more information on our current bill, follow the link here.

Listed below are the “red flags” or signals that someone is falsely providing music therapy:

  1. The professional is not certified and does not hold the MT-BC credential administered by the Certification Board of Music Therapists. If the services are not provided by a board certified music therapist, it is not considered music therapy.
  2. Someone referring to listening to music, music education, playing an instrument, or a general music group as music therapy. Click here for further information on the differences of music education and music therapy.
  3. Associating music entertainment with music therapy. Music entertainment is passive, not reactive and does not align with the definition of music therapy. Check out this blog post on the Misconceptions of Music Therapy for more information on why music entertainment is not music therapy.
  4. The professional did not attend an approved university and 6-month internship through the American Music Therapy Association. Music therapists are required to complete an undergraduate degree in music therapy with coursework in music theory, guitar, anatomy, counseling, psychology, etc. in order to be eligible for the board certification exam.
  5. No goals or documentation are present. Similar to other therapies, music therapy is goal directed. We conduct an assessment, develop a treatment plan, document each session, and reassess the treatment plan in 6-month increments. Each intervention has a purpose and promotes progress with the established goals.

These “red flags” could signal that someone is improperly providing music therapy services and misleading those in need.  If you recognize any of these signs, understand that the product and outcome of treatment is different with the absence of training or certification. Therefore, if you are seeking therapeutic services- from an expert in the field- then you should ensure that the person providing treatment is a trained and certified music therapist.