The State of Music Therapy in Kansas

Calling all Kansans who have seen the benefits of music therapy for themselves or their loved ones! Soundscape Music Therapy clients in Olathe, Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, Shawnee Mission, and De Soto – music therapy students in Lawrence – fans of Music Sparks in Hays – anyone, really, from Goodland to Garden City to Winfield to Wichita who is interested in music therapy – this post is for you.

We need you to advocate for music therapy in Kansas.

The state of music therapy in Kansas is a very personal issue for me. Those of you who know me from this blog know that I currently live in Missouri while providing music therapy services on both sides of the state line in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I was born in Kansas, though, and I am still pretty loyal to the Sunflower State. I started Soundscape Music Therapy in Wichita, Kansas, and I was the only music therapist accepting new clients there for a long time. I still get calls from people looking for music therapists in that part of the state.

I have seen so many Kansans that would benefit from music therapy services, and it breaks my heart that so many simply do not have access to a board-certified music therapist.

Before moving to this side of the state line, I was a part of the Kansas State Task Force for music therapy recognition. This group is part of the joint AMTA/CBMT State Recognition Operational Plan. Here’s a statement from the Certification Board for Music Therapists about this plan:

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.

The first thing we did as a task force was to survey the music therapists in the state to find out how things are going for music therapy in Kansas. Here’s some of what we learned:

  • At the time of the survey, in late 2010, we had 78 board-certified music therapists in Kansas. Unfortunately, not all of them were working as music therapists at the time.
  • Approximately 10,267 Kansans received music therapy services in 2010 in a variety of settings, including schools, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, client homes, early intervention, hospice, adult day cares, mental health facilities, private practice, senior independent living facilities, and family services. 
  • The majority of music therapy services were funded through facility budgets and private pay. Grants, endowments, and funding from the Kansas Department of Education under IEPs were also funding sources for some music therapy programs. 38.5% of survey participants reported having clients lose access to music therapy due to funding or budget cuts.
  • Besides lack of funding, music therapists identified several barriers to receiving music therapy services, including administrative decisions, inadequate numbers of MT-BCs to meet the needs, services being provided by non-credentialed individuals, and clients’ lack of knowledge about music therapy.
  • Music therapy education is strong in Kansas, with bachelor, master and doctoral degrees offered at the University of Kansas, and five national roster internships and four university-affiliated internships active in the state. Unfortunately, many KU grads relocate to other states due to limited employment opportunities in Kansas.

I think this map shows pretty clearly the problem with music therapy in Kansas:

Music therapists serve only 19 of the 105 counties in Kansas. Those shaded-in counties are the ones that have a board-certified music therapist practicing there. Keep in mind that outside of the Kansas City metropolitan area, there is usually only one or two MT-BCs in a geographical area, certainly not enough to serve all the people who would benefit from music therapy.

That means A LOT of Kansans do not have access to music therapy services.

Seriously, it breaks my heart. (And makes me wish I could teleport myself across the state to visit clients.)

What’s to be done about this? The answer is advocacy.

Advocacy might sound intimidating, especially if you’re picturing yourself having a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” moment at the State Capitol in Topeka. That is one form of advocacy to be sure, but it’s not always that public and formal. 

Advocacy is all about everyday interaction.

Advocacy is telling the people you know about the benefits you’ve seen from music therapy. It’s telling your friends and neighbors that your daughter is a music therapy student at KU and that she’s going to come back to your hometown ready to spread the benefits of music therapy after she gets that board certification. It’s telling another mom about that great intergenerational group at the Sterling House in Hays. It’s telling your friend about this very website and the things you learn about music therapy here. These conversations matter, because they spread the word about music therapy and all the great things that can happen through work with a music therapist.

I hope that you’re getting excited about sharing your story with others and helping to advocate for music therapy in Kansas. 

If you want to help more people in Kansas 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. Each state task force is 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.

All of us together, sharing our stories, can make it possible for more people across the state of Kansas to have access to music therapy when they need it. We can do it!


4 thoughts on “The State of Music Therapy in Kansas

    • soundscapemusictherapy says:

      Thank you, JoAnn! And thank you especially for all the hard work you’re continuing to do on the task force.

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