House Professional Licensure Committee holds hearing on Pashinski Music Therapy Licensure bill

HARRISBURG, March 23 – The House Professional Licensure Committee recently held a hearing on state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski’s bill that would establish a state Board of Professional Music Therapy Licensure in Pennsylvania.

“There’s a major difference between a music therapist and someone who either teaches or performs music,” Pashinski said. “A music therapist takes that art and uses it with a patient to stimulate their mind, help them physically, suppress certain emotion, ignite certain parts of their brain, and help them overcome their disability.”

Those who testified on H.B. 1438 include officials from the American Music Therapy Association, Pennsylvania State Task Force for Music Therapy and Autism Society Greater Harrisburg, as well as parents of children who benefit from music therapy.

One advocate said while Pennsylvania has 10 music therapy schools, which is the highest number in the U.S., 30 percent of graduates said they had difficulty obtaining employment as a music therapist in the commonwealth.

“Many music therapy graduates are having to leave Pennsylvania in order to obtain full-time employment,” said Nicole Hahna, assistant professor of music therapy, Slippery Rock University. “Additionally, lack of licensure in Pennsylvania has meant that graduates are often not able to apply for music therapy positions that require licensure.”

Pashinski said in addition to creating a state Board of Professional Music Therapy Licensure in the commonwealth, his legislation also would establish a state license requirement for music therapists.

A parent of a child with Rett syndrome testified that music therapy has been instrumental in their long and painful road in providing care for their child.

“My daughter has specialized medical needs. Music therapists are trained and nationally certified professionals that are educated in a way that can meet my daughter’s needs,” Tony Elhajj said. “No other music provider should be trusted to work in a clinical manner with the intricate needs of my daughter and all people who have complex diagnoses.”