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Music Therapy and Disaster Response 

AMTA responds to disaster events affecting professionals, students and the clients/patients we serve. Following any disaster event AMTA’s disaster response coordinator sets into motion three critical steps. First, a welfare inquiry is made to understand whether, and how, professional s or students are affected by the disaster. Second, AMTA seeks to understand what the assistance needs may be. Third, AMTA considers how best to meet individual needs, given the circumstances and available resources. More often than not, this process is fundamentally about respecting and supporting our colleagues during times of extremely high stress. In the United States, it is relatively uncommon for an organized profession to provide a regular and ongoing coordination of disaster response to and with its membership. We are able to do this because you – our members, colleagues, and friends – care. Our aim is simply to support our peers and students and assist in recovery. We do this so our peers may get back to the business of providing music therapy services in the aftermath of disaster as soon as possible.

infopod_graphicv2_smDisaster response from AMTA: Barbara Else, MT-BC, AMTA Disaster Repsonse Coordinator, summarizes the role AMTA plays in disaster response and provides information about resources when a music therapist is involved in a disaster.

Free AMTA E-course: Disaster Response for Music Therapists

COVID-19 Resources for Music Therapists and Students

Copy_of_COVID-19_resource_page_SquareAMTA continues to work to address issues and concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and meet regularly with many groups to establish support for all affected. Please use this list of curated resources and information that may be of help to music therapists, business owners, students and faculty for specific issues. Check this page often as new information will be added as it becomes available.

Information about the COVID-19 Task Force can be found here.

AMTA Government Relations Department Update Regarding COVID-19

updated 3/30/2020

AMTA’s Government Relations Department continues to closely monitor updated information about COVID-19/Coronavirus, from local, state, and national officials. 

On March 6, President Trump signed an $8.3B emergency Coronavirus spending bill designed to provide relief to states already fighting to contain COVID-19. The bill will use grant funding as the method to distribute funds.  In addition to other provisions the bill includes:

  • $3B for vaccine research. 
  • $3.1B of funds designated for the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to use at his discretion with $100M designated for use by Community Health Centers for direct care to underserved populations. 
  • $950 million for state and local public health response that's to be dispersed via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • $1.5B for international activities.

President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13th, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The declaration allows for the exercise of particular powers and authorities activated under both the National Emergencies Act (NEA) and the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.  The national emergency declaration allows the release of additional funding to use for further coordination of the Coronavirus response at the state and federal level.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was signed into law by President Trump on Wednesday, March 18.  FFCRA is the second piece of coronavirus relief legislation passed this month.   The provisions of the new law include:

  • Additional funding and extensions for unemployment insurance
  • $500 million additional funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program
  • $400 million in additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program
  • Emergency paid sick leave for needs related to coronavirus
  • Emergency family and medical leave
  • Free coronavirus testing

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748), was signed into law on March 27th.  The $2T coronavirus relief bill is the largest relief aid package passed by Congress in United States history.  Included in the bill are provisions designed to provide assistance and relief to individuals, hospitals, businesses, and state and local governments.

Major provisions of the CARES Act:

  • Direct payments to individuals: $1,200 for single filers with adjusted gross income below $75,000 and head of household filers with adjusted gross info below $112,500; $2,400 for joint filers with adjusted gross income below $150,000. $500 for each child (defined as a dependent under the age of 17).
  • Additional expansions of unemployment insurance including: extension of benefits existing benefits by 13 weeks , increasing payments by $600 per week for 4 months, and making the self-employed eligible.
  • $150 billion in direct support to state and local governments to help fight the coronavirus.
  • Federally-backed loans up to a maximum amount to eligible businesses to help pay operational costs like payroll, rent, health benefits, insurance premiums, utilities, etc. Subject to certain conditions, loan amounts are forgivable.
  • Temporary suspension of payments for federal student loans.


AMTA will continue to monitor developments and post updates as appropriate.

Small Business Administration – Disaster Loan Information

March 16, 2020

updated 4/6/2020

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) authorizes loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, 501(c )(3) organizations, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.

PPP loans can provide small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs, including benefits, if they maintain their payroll. Funds can also be used to pay mortgages, rent, and utilities.

PPP loans require applying through an SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Local lenders should be consulted as to whether it is participating. All loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.

PPP loans can be forgiven if the funds are used for payroll expenses, mortgage payments, or rent and utility costs within eight weeks of receiving the loan. Additional guidance will be posted as it becomes available.

Find additional information about the Paycheck Protection Program and the application form.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program

Federal disaster loans provide working capital to small businesses, private non-profits, homeowners and renters suffering substantial economic injury.  The CARES act adds $10 billion to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans, expanding the program include funding for grants.

EIDL Program funding can be used to:

  • Repay obligations that cannot be met due to revenue loss
  • Maintain payroll
  • Provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to COVID-19
  • Make rent or mortgage payments

EIDL advance funds are also available. Successful EIDL applicants receive an initial $10,000 disbursal of funding within days of submission of the successful EIDL application. 

A streamlined application for COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application and advance funding is available HERE

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail


AMTA’s Government Relations Department continues to closely monitor updated information about Coronavirus from local, state, and national officials.  In addition, we will continue to share updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other reliable agencies providing information relevant to music therapy practice.  We will update information regularly.

Additional Resources

Workplace Safety

We also recommend that you stay up to date on developments from the state (active link) and local (active link) health departments.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and COVID – 19

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has issued additional guidance for use during the coronavirus pandemic.  

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
US Department of Education (School Settings)
US Department of Labor (Workforce)

Additional Online Resources

NHPCO: Press Release on Hospice Telehealth

American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine is hosting free, live webinars with experts from the Tele-Medicine industry.

NAMM Foundation shares a number of music making webinars and resources.

Americans for the Arts has created a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center


Telehealth Information

The U.S. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as the "use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration" (HRSA, 2017).

HRSA (2017). Telemedicine and telehealth. Retrieved from:

Telehealth is subject to all the standards of face-to-face music therapy practice including documentation and consent. Note, this is in contrast to remote music therapy informed supportive, informal leisure/social interactions, and adapted music lessons. Clearly, a fine line exists in some client contexts. Discretion and critical decision making may be needed to discern whether telehealth services are planned or needed for your individual clients.

Considerations for telehealth music therapy services should include:

  • consent for telehealth MT
  • security (cyber) for the technology/platform selected
  • confidentiality (awareness of threats to confidentiality at each remote site)
  • understanding related state and/or facility policies or guidance on use of telehealth

Sample Consent Form Template

Additional Resources

Center for Connected Health Policy - National Telehealth Policy Resource Center (map and pdf available with summaries of state policies)

American Telemedicine Association

SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions


Place of Service Codes for Professional Claims

02---Telehealth: The location where health services and health related services or provided or received, through a telecommunication system.


CPT® (Current Procedural Terminology) is a listing of descriptive terms and identifying codes for reporting medical services and procedures performed by physicians and other qualified health care professionals. This coding system, developed by the American Medical Association (AMA), is utilized by insurance companies for reimbursement purposes.  Coding information can be found in the CPT® Professional Edition manual, which is updated each year, making it very important to check for any changes in codes used on a regular basis.  The manual is available for purchase through the AMA Amazon Store at  

(Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) 2021 Professional Edition)

For a complete listing of possible procedure codes to document music therapy services, please visit, CPT Code - 2021 Information Sheet


Additional CPT® codes for possible use in Telehealth include:

Non-Face-to-Face Nonphysician Services
  • 98966 - Telephone assessment and management service provided by a qualified nonphysician health care professional to an established patient, parent, or guardian not originating from a related assessment and management service provided within the previous 7 days nor leading to an assessment and management service or procedure within the next 24 hours or soonest available appointment, 5-10 minutes of medical discussion.
  • 98967 - 11-20 minutes of medical discussion
  • 98968 - 21-30 minutes if medical discussion
Qualified Nonphysician Health Care Professional Online Digital Evaluation and Management Service
  • 98970 - Qualified nonphysician health care professional online digital evaluation and management service, for an established patient, for up to 7 days, cumulative time during the 7 days, 5-10 minutes
  • 98971 - 11-20 minutes
  • 98972 - 21 or more minutes 

CPT® codes and descriptions are copyright 2019 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 and Seeing Clients - Update from AMTA

March 16, 2020

AMTA continues to follow the development of COVID-19 regarding its spread across the nation, hotspots, as well as the most updated authoritative information and research pertaining to the virus.  Recent information indicates that the virus is known to linger in the air for up to three hours.  This fact (NIH/Princeton/UCLA), and the fact that the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, has significance for any music therapist who practices in close physical proximity to the client for delivery of music therapy services.  Recent projections also show that a steep increase in the number of people affected by the virus is entirely possible.  Health officials, as you know, note we are not out of danger and the focus is on controlling the spread of disease so as to not overwhelm health resources.  It is imperative, therefore, that we act responsibly and in accordance with our obligation to ensure the safety of our clients/patients and you.  Many music therapists are feeling the dilemma of whether or not to see clients/patients.  First and foremost, consult your facility’s infection control specialists and adhere to ALL facility protocols.  In addition to adhering to institutional infection control measures in place, we urge all music therapists in doubt to review the Ethical Decision Making Model cited in the link below and consider the context of your individual practices.  For additional information concerning the latest CDC updates of COVID-19, in particular, specific information for healthcare providers, please see the second link below. 

Update from AMTA Regarding COVID-19

March 13, 2020

We at AMTA recognize the impact that COVID-19 is having on the world, and more specifically, on professional music therapists, music therapy interns, music therapy students, the clients we serve, as well as our ability to work.  With the World Health Organization’s recent declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, we now face unavoidable cancellation of conferences and practice and business disruptions for members and the regions.  AMTA is working with the Board, Regional Presidents, and many others to identify issues and concerns, and are meeting regularly to establish supportive forums for music therapists.  Our national conference planners are offering regional conference planners support, if and when needed, to examine contracts and clauses that may help minimize costs to regions around conference cancellations or rescheduling.  We are in uncharted waters, each day brings new information and challenges.  We hear you.  We stand together in this challenge and, as a group, we are stronger.

AMTA National Office Status and COVID-19

March 13, 2020

In light of the recent mandate from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan that all Maryland schools are to be closed for the next two weeks to minimize spread of COVID-19, the AMTA National Office staff will be teleworking as much as possible.

Minimum staffing for essential activities will be arranged with enhanced infection control protocols.  Orders will continue to be filled, but bundled to minimize contact in public areas.  We ask for your patience and understanding as it may take longer than usual for your order to be processed or your voice mail to be returned.  The best way to contact national office staff is by direct email. Click on the staff member's name below for their email address.  You may also leave a voice mail message on staff extensions which will be automatically forwarded:

  • Kim Bell, Staff Assistant / Social Media Coordinator
  • Jane Creagan, Director of Professional Programs, 301-589-3300 ext. 104
  • Angie Elkins, Director of Membership Services and Information Systems, 301-589-3300 ext. 101
  • Barbara Else, Journal of Music Therapy Managing Editor
  • Tawna Grasty, Senior Administrative Assistant / Scholarships Coordinator
  • Jennifer McAfee, Director of Communications, 301-589-3300 ext. 103
  • Rebecca Preddie, Senior Federal Policy & Programs Analyst & Grant Coordinator, 301-589-3300 ext. 108
  • Judy Simpson, Director of Government Relations, 301-589-3300 ext. 105
  • Cindy Smith, Conference Director, 301-589-3300 ext. 102
  • Dianne Wawrzusin, Administrative Services Coordinator, 301-589-3300 ext. 107 

These procedures will be in place until further notice or until information from public health officials changes. 

We thank you for your patience and hope that you all practice self-care and stay safe as we receive and navigate new information.


The AMTA National Office

COVID-19 Resource

March 11, 2020

The American Public Health Association recently published education fact sheets and tips on COVID-19. Resources include pdf fact sheets in multiple languages and videos for your use/reference.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Alert

March 6, 2020

We at AMTA, along with many of you, have been closely following the developments around COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  Although the current risk (as stated by the Center for Disease Control) in North America remains low, it is constantly evolving and is of increasing concern.  Please note the current risk assessment from the CDC (as of 3/5/2020):

  • For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
  • People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated, though still relatively low risk of exposure.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.
  • CDC has developed guidance to help in the risk assessment and management of people with potential exposures to COVID-19.

With regional conferences underway, the health and well-being of attendees is of the highest priority.  We advise all regional conference planners to adhere to the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Large Community Events to ensure the safety of all participants:

Also, a reminder for music therapists to be mindful of planning and prevention policies in their practice, per the Standards of Clinical Practice, 3.0 Standard III - Treatment Planning: 3.10 Comply with infection control procedures. 

"Please review your planning and prevention and policies regarding infection control in light of the current viral epidemic of COVID 19 (Coronavirus Disease). The CDC maintains an update page with guidance and information:"

AMTA, in conjunction with advice and information from the World Health Organization, and the Center for Disease Control, will continue to monitor developments around COVID-19 to ensure the safety of its members.  Please refer to the Center for Disease Control website for further information:

The American Public Health Association recently published education fact sheets and tips on COVID-19. Resources include pdf fact sheets in multiple languages and videos for your use/reference.

A Message to Music Therapists about Preparedness

September 13, 2018

"Hi, I'm Barb Else, I’m a music therapist and AMTA member.  Every major weather event has unique features and unknown factors that may influence its course and potential damage. I was trained to anticipate and prepare for as many factors as possible.  There is no such thing as being totally prepared given the vagaries and vicissitudes of Mother Nature.  I urge my colleagues to assess your own preparedness whether you are in a zone of impact, near it, or outside of it.  Have a communication plan. And you can stay in touch with AMTA through your regions, through the national office, or through the regional president's liaison, Andrea Dalton. Check and secure your insurance and important paperwork, document your household and business contents, know your essential emergency supply needs, etc.  Practice your plans.  Even if it's a desktop review with your family and business colleagues. Stay informed, be prepared, and stay safe. Thanks."

The Answer my Friend is Blowin’ in the Wind: Music Therapy Advisory and Air Quality

October, 2018

As music therapy professionals, it's important to be prepared for natural disasters specific to our region. Hawaii is unique in that there is an active volcano. AMTA and the Western Region reached out to check in with our professional colleagues around disasters and we've been in contact with the MT-BC closest to the volcano. Even though our colleagues in Hawaii are very familiar with the problems of volcanic eruptions, we thought a brief posting might be helpful since it’s always good to be informed.

One adverse effect of the volcano on the Big Island is VOG or toxic gas and particulates that are produced around eruptions. Sulphur dioxide emitted from the volcano can be toxic and dangerous, especially when trade winds do not blow the gas and debris off shore away from the island chain. Acidic conditions and acid rain can result affecting air quality and water sources. Poor air quality can also occur in other areas of our country around wildfires, dust storms, and urban air pollution. Here are a few suggested tips prepared for clinicians affected by VOG; however, many of these tips may also be helpful in other regions where we may experience poor air quality.

Intervention/Client Safety Recommendations
  1. Limit outdoor or commuter time when VOG/air quality levels are high.
  2. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. Use towels to close gaps if needed.
  3. Good quality N95 masks, fitted properly, may be helpful.
  4. Heed state and county alerts.
  5. Turn on dehumidifiers on A/C units to help reduce contaminants inside.
  6. Consider using a good quality air filter.
  7. For clients with respiratory issues, limit strenuous or active interventions and consider modifying more active music therapy interventions.
  8. Encourage increased water consumption to clear contaminants from mouth and throat.
  9. To neutralize acidic conditions, soak a hand towel or piece of cheesecloth in a thin water/baking soda solution. Drape the cloth near the face of a fan running on low-medium speed (be cautious to keep the cloth wet but away from the motor for safety).
  10. Pay attention to your body and responses from clients. If becoming fatigued, stop activity and get some rest. If struggling to breathe, move to an area with less VOG or seek medical attention.

VOG Information & Safety:

Local Air Quality:

Safety Alerts:

A Word on Disaster and Disaster Response

September 8, 2017

The country is in unprecedented territory as we face multiple, concurrent major disaster events including Storm Harvey, wildfires in western states, and Hurricane Irma bearing down on Puerto Rico and heading towards Florida.  Our neighbors around the world also face challenges like the recent 8 magnitude earthquake in Mexico.  Storm Harvey has directly or indirectly affected a large proportion of music therapists and students in Texas and SW Louisiana. We are in the process of conducting follow-ups to check in with our colleagues. Concurrently, Hurricane Irma, at this point, may touch hundreds of music therapists and students in the SER as well as our colleagues in Puerto Rico. AMTA, working with regional leadership and the World Federation for Music Therapy, is actively involved in supporting music therapists and students.

Recovery from these events will take considerable time and there are plenty of opportunities for you to assist your colleagues and our communities. Donations are always helpful but keep in mind needs vary over time depending on the phase of the disaster event. If you choose to donate to a charity organization we suggest consulting the tips recommended from Charity Navigator:

Cash donations are always welcome for the AMTA Disaster Fund located on the AMTA website in the online store. Donations directly support music therapists directly affected by disaster events.

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami

March 2011

The major earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, in Japan appears to be one of the most powerful natural disasters on record. However, any disaster or traumatic event, no matter the size or scope of the event, is significant for those affected. Therefore, AMTA treats all disasters with attention, consideration and concern. On behalf of all the music therapists and students affected by this disaster, AMTA wishes to convey their appreciation and gratitude for everyone’s concern, support and call to respond. Dozens of our colleagues in Japan, as well as the music therapy student and professional members from Japan and living in the United States have candidly shared their thoughts, concerns and prayers over the past days.

This event is marked by a high level of social networking since internet service is readily available in most areas in Japan. One of the main AMTA disaster response activities in this first step has been serving as a conduit for communication and messaging. Some of these messages are already posted in member Facebook pages. Some include relayed messages from our colleagues in areas of Japan that sustained major infrastructure damage. Several members are working with AMTA to relay and/or assist in message translation in the U.S. and in Japan.

This event will involve a long recovery and rebuild process for the people of Japan. As we learn more about the needs of our colleagues and friends in Japan, we will work together so that music therapy services may continue and be a part of recovery and service to the community. Since this disaster is subject to change on a day to day basis, members and friends may choose to help immediately by making a charitable donation to an organization such the Red Cross. You may also make donations to the AMTA Disaster Fund by donating online. Go to the AMTA online store and select the Donation to AMTA Disaster Relief Fund option.  Once you select choose select, you may adjust the suggested amount to the amount of your choosing - either lower or higher - by changing the figure in the Amount box. 

2011 Joplin and Tuscaloosa Tornados

The 2011 spring weather season brought with it a tremendous and devastating series of tornados to the middle and southeast corridor of the U.S. Music therapists in and near some of these events have gone through significant change and, in some cases, losses. This is especially the case for the Tuscaloosa tornado that resulted in an early closing of the University training program in Tuscaloosa and affected property for some of the professionals and students in that region. After the Joplin, Missouri tornado this spring, music therapists in the state, including an area therapist are actively working to offer relief and services to the people of Joplin. This includes a summer program for children with special needs in a temporary location and music therapy services at other locations in the affected area. All of these activities make a difference on so many levels. Your continued support is welcome and sincerely appreciated!

Make a donation by clicking on the Donate button.

Thank you for your continued support.

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