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Message from AMTA President Regarding MLE Decision

July 24, 2018 03:32 PM



A text version of this video appears below for those who prefer to read rather than watch online.

Hello, I’m Amber Weldon-Stephens, President of AMTA and I would like to share information regarding the Master’s Level Entry decision by the Board of Directors.

I will be reading from a script as the information is too important to forget any major points.

In this video, I’d like to address the two main concerns that have been expressed to us most frequently:

  1. The benefits and drawbacks of a move to master’s level entry
  2. The democratic process followed by the Board of Directors in making the decision about the Subcommittee’s report

There is a shared desire to see the music therapy profession elevated to its rightful place in health, medicine, education, etc. The experience of frustration with the barriers and limitations placed on music therapy for reasons that are not related to its treatment efficacy and value is common.

There are diverse solutions to ways that music therapy can assume its rightful place, not for status but, rather, so that those who can benefit from music therapy treatment will not have barriers to receiving it.

Just like we can all agree that music therapy should be elevated, we can also agree that the path toward advancement of music therapy is extremely complex.

One reason that the consideration of moving the entry point of practice from the bachelor’s to master’s level is fraught with emotion is because many believe that elevating the entry into the profession would also elevate the profession. However, in the data the Board reviewed from the MLE Subcommittee report, an analysis of regional comments, information from a government relations standpoint, and from its thorough review of the whole picture, whatever possible “elevation” of the profession that might occur from moving the educational entry point was not sufficient to offset the many risks and fiduciary concerns involved. While the primary responsibility of the Board of Directors is fiscal management, we must also look at the costs accrued to become a music therapist.

We understand that some may feel that this decision misses a logical opportunity to “elevate” music therapy; however, after careful review of all the information by the Board, including the Assembly Delegates to the Board, it was determined that the risks associated with this solution would not solve the problems it was seeking to address. Rather, it was determined that this path at this time might cause harm to our profession and possibly decrease access to services at a time when the need for services is increasing dramatically.

Throughout the time that we’ve been discussing the issue of master’s level entry, we have noted that in many of the separate groups polled, the division has been pretty evenly split between those in favor and those against. In other words, by definition it has been a divisive topic to discuss. Despite the divisive nature of this topic, our discussions have been spirited and civil. We recognize that the decision not to move to the master’s degree as the entry point is disappointing and emotional for many but also remember that this decision does not mean never, just not at this time. Please note, however, that the decision to create a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists is a decision to improve and advance music therapy. This is not a decision to remain static, nor to do nothing.

The AMTA Board of Directors operates by way of the Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation (in Michigan) and stringent requirements of 501(c)(3) organizations. Our processes are informed by Robert’s Rules of Order, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards and knowledge-based governance.

In outlining the process from the beginning when discussions first began, the democratic process was honored. The Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee was established by the Board of Directors in 2012 (and reappointed, at times with additional members, by the next two Boards). Over the next 5 years the Subcommittee released two surveys (one to academic program directors and one to internship directors, both National Roster and University Affiliated); regional and national sessions and town hall meetings were offered each year over the last 5 years; and a new section of the AMTA website was created and updated throughout the process to keep members informed ( In December of 2017, the Board received the Final Report of the MLE Subcommittee (for information sharing purposes, a draft form was shared with the 2016-2017 Assembly of Delegates and the Final Report was posted for public distribution in February 2018).

The report included a recommendation to the Board. Because of the enormity of the decision and the length of time the topic had been under discussion, the Board sought additional feedback from each of the regions for the purpose of informing its discussion at the June 2018 Board of Director’s Mid-Year meeting. Each region generously provided time at their spring conferences to seek additional feedback and input. The regions then provided the comments which were shared in their entirety with the Board.

Two of the Delegates to the Board, both experienced researchers, provided an objectivist paradigm analysis of the comments to the Board at the Board of Director’s Mid-Year meeting. Additional questions regarding state recognition arose and the National Team assembled a document in response, which was shared with the Board.

Knowing that the Assembly has been primed for a discussion on the topic of master’s level entry, we explored what needed to happen. It was the realization that nothing could move forward until the Board dealt with the Subcommittee recommendation it had made to the Board. It became apparent that the MLE Subcommittee recommendation needed to be put forth in the form of a motion to the Board. If the recommendation passed, the Assembly would then need to discuss how to make the change in policy. If the recommendation did not pass, then the Board needed to make new steps to move on the additional recommendations made by the Subcommittee.

Thus, the MLE Subcommittee recommendation to move to a master’s level entry by 2030 was brought forward in a motion. There was much discussion as we realized the historic significance of the decision about to be made. The motion was withdrawn as we continued to struggle through the processes ourselves. Again, per all processes in place, it was apparent that because this Subcommittee was of the Board, and its recommendation was to the Board, the Board needed to act on it.

It is a testament to the processes in place that discussions were held regularly and civilly on this emotionally laden topic. Six and a half years of information was discussed; the reality that even after more recent feedback and information, direction remained elusive and significant concerns remained led to the unanimous outcome of the motion.

The Board of Director’s consists of 9 elected voting members of which 4 of them are elected by the Assembly as their Assembly Delegates to the Board of Directors. Additionally, 3 appointed members to the Board are currently members of the Assembly of Delegates. This was not a top down decision, feedback was taken from MT-BCs all along the way, whether they were members or not. The Assembly members represented on the Board were fully engaged in the process and unanimously voted in favor of the decision.

Recognizing the magnitude of this decision and the divisive nature of this topic, we welcome input and discussions and we ask that our path forward is respectful and civil as we each hear our differing views and affirm our next steps. We have more that unites us than divides us.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this information. We are working towards providing additional videos over the next few weeks to continue addressing member concerns. Thank you for all you do for your clients and for the profession of music therapy.


  • Ingram, Richard T. (2015). Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Third Edition. Board Source, Washington, DC.
  • Tecker, Glenn H. & Frankel, Jean. (1997). Building a Knowledge-Based Culture: Using Twenty-First Century Work and Decision Making Systems in Associations.




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