AMTA Anti-Harassment Policy

American Music Therapy Association Anti-Harassment Policy


The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is committed to an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. All personnel, volunteers, members, and persons doing business with AMTA have the right to exist in an environment that promotes safety and respect and prohibits discriminatory practices, including harassment and sexual harassment.

AMTA seeks to cultivate a culture of mutual respect and inclusion. We value:

  • high quality education programs, research, teaching, and practice in the field of music therapy.
  • cultivation of and advocacy for ethical behavior in all aspects of our work.
  • provision of an inclusive, dynamic, and supportive community for all of our members, embracing the full diversity of our backgrounds and experiences.
  • respect for each of our members' voices and seek to amplify their ideas.


This Policy applies to all employees (personnel) of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and its affiliated organizations and all elected and appointed officers, people in leadership positions, volunteers, members, students & interns, participants, visitors, guests and vendors.

The organization maintains a strict policy of zero tolerance with respect to harassment based on personal characteristics including but not limited to: race, color, ethnicity, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, genetic information, military status, or other legally protected status.


Harassment on the basis of any characteristic listed above is strictly prohibited. As defined in this policy, harassment is a course of conduct which annoys, threatens, intimidates, alarms, or puts a person in fear of their safety. Harassment is unwanted, unwelcomed or uninvited behavior that demeans, threatens or offends the victim and results in a hostile environment for the victim. Harassment can be verbal, physical, visual, sexual, and/or psychological.

Examples of verbal harassment include but are not limited to unwanted/unwelcome:

  • Disparaging jokes
  • Epithets
  • Insults
  • Negative stereotyping
  • Threats
  • Any other words or conduct that demean, stigmatize, intimidate, or single out a person due to the protected characteristics listed above

Examples of physical or visual harassment include but are not limited to unwanted/unwelcome:

  • Creating an intimidating physical situation for the person, such as trapping the person in a doorway or corner, or blocking normal movement.
  • Damaging personal property
  • Offensive gestures
  • Physical assaults, threats, or threatening behavior
  • Physical contact such as touching of clothing, hair, skin, face or body
  • Possession or display of derogatory pictures, writings, or graphic materials (e.g. digital, tangible, and other media)
  • Threatening behaviors or actions

Examples of sexual harassment include but are not limited to unwanted/unwelcome:

  • Asking intrusive questions about sexuality or repeatedly asking about their personal life
  • Attempted or actual sexual assault
  • Display of pornography, graphic pictures, materials or writings
  • Giving gifts or leaving objects that are sexually suggestive
  • Making physical sounds or gestures of a sexual nature towards another
  • Physical advances including hugs or touching of any kind
  • Making sexual comments about a person's appearance, gender, clothing or body
  • Making sexual innuendos and comments
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexual pranks, or repeated sexual teasing, jokes, or innuendo, in person or via email or other online platforms

Should you experience or witness harassment, you may file a complaint according to the procedure described below. AMTA will not tolerate or permit retaliation against any grievant or anyone assisting in a harassment investigation.

How to File a Harassment Complaint

If you feel you need immediate protection or there are grounds for criminal action, then please immediately file a police report. AMTA will treat all aspects of the procedure confidentially to the extent reasonably possible.

Formal Complaints may be submitted at any time without initiating the Informal Complaint Procedure. The Executive Director will keep a permanent confidential record of all Formal Complaints.

A. Informal Complaint Procedure
  1. If an individual (hereafter, Grievant) is aware of a harassment violation and believes harm has or will occur, then AMTA encourages them to first contact the Respondent directly to address the concern.
  2. The Grievant may contact the Executive Director for guidance. However, the Grievant, at this stage, is not required to file a written complaint. If this Informal Complaint Procedure does not resolve the concern, then the Grievant is directed to file a Formal Complaint.
B. Formal Complaint Procedure
  1. Formal Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible after an incident has occurred, preferably in writing. The Executive Director may assist the Grievant in completing a written statement or, in the event a Grievant refuses to provide information in writing, the Executive Director will record/dictate the verbal complaint. If complaint is against the Executive Director, then all contact should go straight to the Past President.
  2. Upon receiving a Formal Complaint, the Executive Director or Past President will notify the grievant in writing with a proposed timeline for investigation and response.
  3. The Executive Director will notify the AMTA Past President and review the Formal Complaint with outside legal counsel if necessary. If the Past President receives the Formal Complaint, then they will notify the Speaker of the Assembly and review the Formal Complaint with outside legal counsel if necessary.
  4. The Executive Director (or Past President) will initiate an investigation to determine whether the alleged violation of this policy occurred.
    1. If the alleged violation occurred at a college or university, or involves a student or faculty member at any AMTA sponsored activity, then the Executive Director will contact the Program Chair or appropriate party at the respective school. If necessary AMTA will recommend the Grievant and the Respondent be separated during the course of the investigation, either through internal transfer or administrative leave.
  5. During the investigation, the Executive Director, together with the Past President (or the Past President and the Speaker of the Assembly) and possible outside legal counsel, will interview the Grievant, the Respondent and any witnesses; and review any evidence to determine whether the alleged violation occurred.
  6. If the investigation is inconclusive, or if it is determined that there has been no violation of policy but potentially problematic conduct may have occurred, then the Executive Director and Past President (or the Past President and the Speaker of the Assembly) may recommend appropriate preventive action and training. This could include a referral to the Ethics Board.
  7. If it is determined that a violation of this policy has occurred, then the Executive Director and Past President (or the Past President and the Speaker of the Assembly) will recommend appropriate disciplinary action. In determining disciplinary action the investigators will consider the following:
    1. the severity, frequency and pervasiveness of the conduct
    2. prior Formal Complaints made against the Respondent
    3. the quality of the evidence (e.g., firsthand knowledge, credible corroboration).
    4. other factors deemed appropriate
  8. Once a final decision is made by the Executive Director and Past President, (or Past President and Speaker of the Assembly), they will communicate in writing with the Grievant and the Respondent separately and notify them of the investigation findings where allowable by law.
  9. The final decision may be appealed to the Judicial Review Board.
Consistent with the AMTA Code of Ethics, potential disciplinary actions may include, but are not limited to:
  1. Private Reprimand is appropriate when the violation did not cause serious professional or personal harm.
  2. Public Reprimand is appropriate when the violation is serious enough to warrant public knowledge of the issue. For example, a violation that involves students or trainees may be made public in order to protect future students or trainees.
  3. Corrective Action in Response to Reprimand may include educational requirements with specified altered behavior expectations. The Respondent may be asked to sign a binding agreement to conform their practice, education/training methods, or research methods to reflect AMTA principles of ethical behavior. Respondents may be asked to participate in rehabilitative activities such as educational courses, professional supervision or personal therapy. Failure to comply may result in further action.
  4. Specific limitations on professional activity including denial of:
    1. participation at conferences
    2. leadership roles (e.g. regional or national elected or appointed offices, membership on committees and boards, editorial roles)
    3. participation in volunteer roles (e.g. membership drive, state task forces)
    4. teaching continuing education courses at AMTA-sponsored events
    5. national roster internship supervision
    6. publication in association sponsored journals
    7. eligibility to receive AMTA awards or grants
  5. Suspension or Termination of Membership in AMTA and regional chapters. Possible ban from state organizations when violations have caused serious personal or professional harm. Eligibility to renew membership may be automatic at the end of the sanction period or may require further review to assure corrective actions have been taken to prevent further harm.
  6. Recommendation for withdrawal of professional credential to the Certification Board for Music Therapists and state licensing boards as applicable.
  7. Termination of vendor contract with AMTA.
  8. Termination of employment or volunteer role with AMTA.
  9. Notice to employer/place of employment disclosing decision, as allowable by law

Grievant: Individual or entity who submits a complaint or concern

Respondent: Individual or entity named in the Informal or Formal Complaint, identified as committing the alleged violation

Retaliation: To hurt someone or do something harmful to someone because that person has done or said something harmful to you

Alternative Legal Remedies

Nothing in this policy may prevent the Grievant or the Respondent from pursuing formal legal remedies or resolution through local, state or federal agencies or the courts.

APPENDIX - Guidelines for AMTA Harassment Formal Complaint Submission

What to include in your complaint:

The Grievant will submit a written report (grievance) describing the alleged violation(s) to the Executive Director via email or US Postal Service. The written report will consist of the following:

  • a signed, dated summary, not longer than two pages, of the principle allegations (hereinafter referred to as the charge) against the respondent
  • a thorough explanation of the alleged violation(s)
  • a summary of informal resolution attempts, if any have been made; and
  • collaborative documentation, including signed statements by witnesses, if available. Do not include confidential documents such as patient or employment records.
  • note if you have filed a report about this alleged violation with any other agency (e.g., CBMT, academic institution; or any federal, state, or local official), indicating to whom it was submitted, the approximate date(s), and resolution if known
  • supportive evidence

Please include the following paragraph at the end of your report of the alleged harassment violation.

I certify that the statements and information within this complaint are correct and truthful to the best of my knowledge and are submitted in good faith, not for resolution of private business, legal, or other disputes for which other appropriate avenues exist.

How to submit your complaint:
  1. Print, sign, and date the document.
  2. Submit via email or mail:
  • Email a pdf copy to the Executive Director.
  • Mail (via registered or delivery confirmation) to:

AMTA Executive Director – PERSONAL and CONFIDENTIAL, 

8455 Colesville Rd., Ste. 1000 Silver Spring, MD 20910 USA

Adopted November 2019