The Current Status of State Recognition Efforts in New Jersey

New Jersey Music Therapists are seeking state recognition through a music therapist license. In April of 2015, the Music Therapist Licensing Act sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak and Senator Jeff Van Drew was introduced to the NJ legislature. The primary purpose of this license is to protect the public by outlining the specific education, clinical training, and continuing education requirements needed to practice competently and to use the title of Music Therapist. NJSTF is planning a Hill Day in June to support this legislation and details are evolving rapidly. Stay in touch through the above NJSTF contact opportunities to get up to date information and to find out how you can help support this important legislation!

How has music therapy been recognized in New Jersey government to date?

In 2008, a Joint Legislative Resolution was passed acknowledging, in part, that “…music therapy has been used to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive, or social functioning of children, adolescents, adults, and senior citizens with a variety of medical difficulties…”, in conjunction with Music Therapy Day at the capitol in Trenton.

The New Jersey legislature has adopted into code under Title 8. Health, Division of Health Facilities Evaluation and Licensing, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services; Chapter 39-7.3, Standards for Licensure of Long-Term Care Facilities …“commonly known as nursing homes”…; Mandatory resident activity services, 3. “Creative (for example, crafts, poetry, drama, music therapy, art therapy, and gardening)”.   (Click on New Jersey Administrative Code)

Chapter 37G Short Term Care Facilities Standards Subchapter 1.2 Definitions “ ‘Rehabilitation/creative arts therapist’ means a person who has a degree from an accredited institution of higher learning in a discipline with a defined course of study addressing assessment and treatment for persons with mental illness. …will be licensed or credentialed by the appropriate association or licensure or credentialing board….Rehabilitation/creative arts therapists may include, but need not be limited to, rehabilitation specialists, and art, music, dance/movement, drama, occupational, and recreation therapists.”

In January 2015, proposed language changes for Chapter 37G were presented for public review. The explanation for change follows

The definition of “rehabilitation/creative arts therapists” is proposed for amendment to clarify the specific staff credentials that are required for STCF staff employed in creative art therapist roles. Creative art therapists, such as music, art, and movement therapists, serve a unique and important role in the treatment service offerings at a short-term care facility. To deliver this form of therapy, creative art therapist staff must have specific training and credentials in this area. Not all staff trained in general mental health disciplines are necessarily equipped to deliver this form of therapy. Thus, narrowing the definition of creative arts therapist better serves the treatment service package offered to short-term care facility patients by ensuring that only staff with specific training in creative arts delivers this form of therapy.

The Department is proposing to include “STCF professional staff” as a new definition. This will differentiate STCF clinical staff from other STCF staff. STCF professional staff have a master’s degree from an accredited institution in a recognized mental health discipline or are a staff member that is appropriately licensed, certified, or qualified, in accordance with the highest professional standards, to provide clinical services.