To paraphrase the Four Seasons Oh, what a day, Mid-December twenty-fifteen we had our first hearing of The Music Therapist Licensing Act. The Assembly Regulated Professions Committee met on December 10th, heard testimony and released bill A4353 to the General Assembly for consideration and vote.
What a very special time to see and hear testimony from Beth Walls, MT-BC and Task Force Member, Paula Unsal, MT-BC and Task Force Chair, Dr. Gerry Costa, founding director and senior lecturer of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health in the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University; and Brian Abrams, Ph.D., MT-BC, Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator for Music Therapy Studies in the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University and Task ForceAdvisor.
Spoken testimonies featured information from a clinician’s viewpoint and the practice of music therapy in NJ; a mental health client’s experience with music therapy; the use of music therapy as well as other disciplines in supporting children with autism and other developmental and emotional derailments and the need to ensure that individuals working with children and families are well-trained; the above national average rate for autism in NJ among 11 states studied, 1 in 45 compared to the national rate of 1 in 68; education, training and certification requirements for music therapists, the 45 year old music therapy program at Montclair, graduates of the program and the need for state recognition to help retain this intellectual capital.
In addition, written testimony of support was submitted by Frank Whittlesey, a parent of a child diagnosed with PTSD, ADHD, and ADD; Patricia Brennan, a social worker from Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton; and Dr. Mark Mintz, a NJ licensed physician quadruple board certified in neurology with special qualification in child neurology, neurodevelopmental disabilities, epilepsy, and pediatrics, President, CEO, and Founder of The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health (CNNH).
While we knew we had strong support within the committee before going into the hearing, with seven of the nine members sponsoring our bill, the testimonies were added to provide information for other legislators who will now have to consider our bill and vote on it in the General Assembly. To demonstrate to legislators that this bill is important to a larger constituency, we asked for others to attend the hearing and register support. With just three days’ notice, MT-BC’s Amy Clarkson; Ellen de Havilland, TaskForce Member; Sheila Riley-Massa; Kristen O’Grady; Marlea Gruver; Roia Rafieyan; and Gillian Zambor, Task Force Member; music therapy student Virginia Eulacio; and from ArtPride New Jersey Ann Marie Miller attended the hearing. Let’s just say that when our group of testifiers and supporters left the committee room, there was a great void created!
Oh, what a day, Oh, what a day,
Oh, what a day, Oh, what a day….