Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Canadian Music Therapists' Perspectives on the Current State of Music Therapy as a Profession in Canada/Les Perspectives Des Musicothérapeutes Sur le Statut Actuel De la Musicothérapie En Tant Que Profession Au Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Music Therapy

Canadian Music Therapists' Perspectives on the Current State of Music Therapy as a Profession in Canada/Les Perspectives Des Musicothérapeutes Sur le Statut Actuel De la Musicothérapie En Tant Que Profession Au Canada

Article excerpt

Music therapy in Canada is a relatively young and emerging profession. Since the first documented practices began in Toronto in the 1950s, the field has made significant gains. Our national professional association, the Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) was formed in 1974 (Alexander, 1993), and this is one of the most notable of these gains. Currently, the CAMT has approximately 816 members, 541 of whom are accredited music therapists, and seven provincial chapters (CAMT, 2013). It publishes a peer-reviewed journal and hosts an annual national conference. There are six CAMT-approved university training programs that have varying types of involvement in research initiatives, two of which provide education at the master's level (CAMT, n.d.-a). A national non-profit organization called the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund (CMTTF) was formed in 1994 and to date has raised approximately 4.8 million dollars, which has helped to fund over 450 clinical music therapy projects across the country (W. Gascho-White, Chair, CMTTF Board of Directors, personal communication, September 5, 2013). Finally, there have been several recent features in the Canadian media on music therapy, which not only help to increase public awareness but may also increase public acceptance of the field as a legitimate form of professional practice (e.g., Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2011; Gordon, 2011; Jolly, Pettit, & Mahoney, 2011; Nadeau, 2011; Rooy, 2013; Ubelacker, 2013). However, in spite of these advances, Canadian music therapists still struggle to find work in their chosen profession. Insufficient funding has often been cited as the primary reason for this situation (Alexander, 1993; CAMT, 2004a, 2004b); Pearson, 2006), but the literature also indicates that there may be other important factors to consider.

The Professionalization Process

In general, a profession may be defined as the highest level of occupational functioning in a particular area (Emener & Cottone, 1989). More specifically, Imse (1960) defined a profession as

an occupational group identified by (1) its fund of specialized knowledge and (2) its highly trained membership, who (3) acting with individual judgment, (4) intimately affect the affairs of others. It is usually characterized by (1) its code of ethics, (2) its spirit of altruism, and (3) its self-organization, (p. 41)

Similarly, Millerson (1964) identified common traits of a profession, which include skills based upon professional knowledge, the provision of training and education, testing the competence of members, organization, adherence to a professional code of conduct, and altruistic service. Aigen (1991) stated that the field of music therapy consists of "professional standards and responsibilities, educational competencies, certification criteria, acceptable forms of practice, and the function of the accrediting bodies" (p. 80). Therefore, according to the criteria outlined above, music therapy in Canada can indeed be legitimately defined as a profession. However, the literature search also revealed that new professions often experience a process referred to as professionalization.

Professionalization is "the process by which a gainful activity moves from the status of 'occupation' to the status of a 'profession'" (Emener & Cottone, 1989, p. 6). Professionalization is necessary in order to safeguard quality, effectiveness, and ethical integrity of practice (Rostron, 2009). Yet, "no occupation becomes a profession without a struggle" (Goode, 1960, p. 902). It seems that music therapy in Canada is no exception.

According to the literature, new professions often have difficulties differentiating themselves from occupations with similar client bases (Goode, 1960), or face impingement by other professions (Emener & Cottone, 1989). According to the CAMT's definition of music therapy, in order for an intervention to fall under the scope of music therapy practice, it must be carried out by a qualified music therapist, (CAMT, 1994); however, in Canada potential employers (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.