The State of Music Therapy in Missouri

Calling on anyone who loves music therapy in Missouri, including music therapy clients in Kansas City, Liberty, Blue Springs, Independence, Raytown, or Raymore, and no matter whether you’re in the country or the city from here to St. Louis. If you have seen the benefits of music therapy in Missouri, we need your help!

We need you to advocate for music therapy in Missouri.

Music therapy has been gaining a lot of attention around the country in recent years, and more and more people benefit from music therapy services each day. You who are reading this have probably seen the impact of music therapy in the lives of those around you. 

The good news is that a lot of people in the state of Missouri are already benefiting from music therapy. A recent survey of board-certified music therapists living and working in the state showed us that some great things are happening here:

  • More than 137 Board-Certified Music Therapists (MT-BCs) work in Missouri.
  • More than 28,000 Missourians receive music therapy services each year.
  • Missourians receive music therapy services in more than 55 treatment settings, including schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, early intervention, adult daycare, assisted living, nursing homes, state or county residential facilities, group homes, hospice, rehabilitation centers, private practice clinics, and private homes.
  • Music therapists serve Missourians with a variety of health needs, including hospice and palliative care, rehabilitation needs (e.g. after a stroke or traumatic brain injury), medical/surgical needs, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, mental health needs, and physical or sensory impairments.

Music therapy is making a difference in a lot of lives in the Show Me State. The problem is, not every Missourian has access to music therapy. Take a look at this map:

All of the colored-in counties are places that are served by at least one music therapist. That means all of the white spaces have no music therapy services available to residents living there. Actually, only ten of the 38 counties served by music therapists have more than one MT-BC.

That means that A LOT of Missourians do not have access to music therapy.

Why is this so? Well, there are a lot of reasons that might contribute to this problem. Sometimes it’s a funding problem – even agencies that might want the services of a music therapist don’t have money in the budget to hire one. Sometimes it’s a lack of knowledge about how music therapy works, and how it’s different from more familiar music-based experiences, like entertainment in nursing homes and school music education classes. Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding about what board-certified music therapists are qualified to do and what is outside of their scope of practice. Sometimes it’s just because there aren’t enough jobs available for an MT-BC to make a living in a particular part of the state.

The solution to these problems is ongoing advocacy for music therapy.

Music therapists in the state of Missouri are currently advocating for music therapy in the Show Me State to achieve state recognition of our profession, in an effort to increase access to music therapy services. Here’s a statement from the Certification Board for Music Therapists regarding this effort:

Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this Plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, and an estimated 10 bills being filed in 2012 that seek to create either a music therapy registry or license for music therapy. This month, our focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.

We need YOU to advocate for music therapy in Missouri. 

Okay, so advocacy may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Advocacy simply means talking to people about music therapy and how it has made a difference for you. Advocacy happens when you sing that special song to help your son stay calm in the grocery store and then tell that gal in the checkout line where he learned it. Advocacy happens when you tell your kids about how alert and alive their grandma was, bopping her head to big band tunes during the music therapy session at the nursing home. Advocacy happens when you give your music therapist’s business card to another parent of a child with special needs or another caregiver who might be interested in a music therapy house call. Advocacy happens when you pass on the information you read on this blog or in my newsletter to someone who might want to know more about how music therapy works. Advocacy happens when you share your story.

If you want to help more people in Missouri access music therapy, here are a few concrete steps you can take today:

  • Give the address to this website to someone you know who would benefit from learning more about music therapy. The more people know, the more music therapy can grow.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter here and forward it freely to your friends and colleagues. I’ll keep you up to date on local advocacy efforts along with providing lots of other great music therapy-related news and information.
  • Write down your music therapy story, and send it to me or to your music therapist. Let us know how music therapy benefited you or your loved one.
  • Volunteer as a spokesperson. We are currently gathering a list of people who would be willing to share their stories in a more public way, and if you are willing to speak with people from the state legislature or various state agencies about your experiences with music therapy, I would love to know!
  • Contact your legislator and let him or her know that you support state recognition of music therapy.
  • Donate to CBMT or AMTA and let them know that you want your money to support advocacy efforts so that more people can access music therapy.

Together, we can make sure that more people in our state can access the music therapy services that will help them to live better lives through music. As always, thank you for your support!


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