State Politics

Music therapy isn’t regulated in NC. Should it require a license?

Vinnie Ireland (standing) smiles at music therapist Freddy Perkins during a group session at Extraordinary Ventures in Chapel Hill on July 18.
Vinnie Ireland (standing) smiles at music therapist Freddy Perkins during a group session at Extraordinary Ventures in Chapel Hill on July 18. mschultz@newsobserver.com

Music therapy would become a licensed profession under a bill moving forward in the N.C. House.

House Bill 192 would put an existing licensing board for recreational therapy in charge of issuing music therapy licenses. Ten other states have licensing regulations, but the industry isn’t regulated in North Carolina.

“Currently, North Carolina has absolutely no standards whatsoever for the practice of music therapy,” said Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican.

Music therapy is used to treat people with mental health conditions, physical disabilities and substance abuse problems through listening to music, singing, songwriting and other activities.

Supporters of the bill say it would prevent people who don’t have a national board certification in the practice from claiming they are music therapists. Also, insurance would be more likely to cover music therapy treatment because it would be provided by a licensed professional.

Warren said he wasn’t familiar with music therapy when he was first approached about the legislation. “It’s not mainstream, but it’s an absolutely legitimate form of therapeutic health,” he said.

The licensing board would have the power to punish unlicensed music therapists.

After passing the House Finance Committee on Monday, the bill heads to the House floor. The House passed a similar bill in 2014, but the Senate didn’t hold a vote on the legislation.

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