Today, over 8,495 music therapists hold the credential, Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) granted by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. This credential reflects the certificants’ willingness to participate in an independently administered national certification program that undergoes a rigorous review every 5 years in order to maintain its accreditation. This accreditation review by NCCA serves as the means by which CBMT strives to maintain the highest standards possible in the construction and administration of its national examination and recertification programs, ultimately designed to reflect current music therapy practice for the benefit of the consumer. Also, because of its success, CBMT is regarded as a leader in the credentialing field, particularly for professions with between 5,000 and 10,000 practitioners.

The vision of national certification as expressed by the profession of music therapy took shape as CBMT became fully accredited by the NCCA in 1986 (then known as the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies) with the 2nd administration of the national examination. The Recertification Program was initiated in 1988 to maintain full accreditation. Today, by remaining in compliance with the accreditation standards established by the NCCA, CBMT demonstrates to MT-BC’s, employers, government agencies, payers, courts and professional organizations that:

1. CBMT’s MT-BC program has been reviewed and meets certification standards set by an impartial, objective commission whose primary focus is competency assurance and protection of the consumer, and
2. CBMT programs meet or exceed the same standards licensing boards use in test development and administration

What Is ICE and NCCA?

ICE is the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. Based in Washington, D.C., ICE is a membership organization that provides a forum for all types of practitioners and organizations interested in competency assurance and certification. ICE is the only national organization that focuses on certification of practitioners in a variety of professions and occupations. Its members include certification organizations, professional associations, employers, educators, test development companies and consultants, state licensing boards, federal agencies, and consumer groups. Through its annual educational conferences and workshops, ICE provides access to expertise in certification, licensure and testing, as well as information about the state-of-the-art in the credentialing arena.

NCCA is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. NCCA is an accreditation body that accredits national certification programs and is a subsidiary of ICE, the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, formerly NOCA. The NCCA accreditation standards address the areas of a certification organizations structure; examination development and administration; test validity and reliability; recertification program; public protection and information; responsibilities to candidates, certificants, employers and the public. A certification organization may apply for accreditation after two administrations of its national examination and after a self-evaluation determines that the organization is ready to be reviewed for adherence to standards. The Commission itself is composed of eight members elected by ICE. Its members represent a cross-section of certification organizations, both accredited and non-accredited, and always includes psycho-metricians for expert input in the area of test development and public members to oversee consumer and public protection issues. Organizations that achieve accreditation are reevaluated every five years. Accreditation may be renewed at that time if the organization has remained in compliance with all standards.

The CBMT’s involvement with ICE, formerly NOCA, and NCCA began in 1980 when the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) joined as an affiliate member. At the time, NAMT’s Certification Committee explored the establishment of a certification program for the profession of music therapy. It was recognized that NOCA/NCCA was the leading authority on certification in the country with the only objective standards for national certification organizations. In 1980, NCCA was called the National Commission for Health Certifying Agencies (NCHCA). The health was dropped in 1987 as it became clear that the accreditation standards applied to all professions and occupations, not just those that are health-related. ICE, formerly NOCA, has members whose groups are in all kinds of professions and occupations.

When the CBMT was created in 1983 to be the independent credentialing body for Music Therapists, CBMT became a member organization of NOCA. CBMT’s certification program was accredited in 1986 upon its initial application to the Commission. The CBMT’s accreditation is renewed every five years, most recently in 2011. Among ICE members, formerly NOCA members, the CBMT is recognized as having a quality certification program that is a leader in the field, particularly among professions with around 6,000 practitioners.

CBMT continues to be involved with ICE and NCCA for a number of important reasons. First, NCCA accreditation is recognition that the CBMT meets the highest standards for national certification programs. Accreditation demonstrates to certificants, employers, government agencies, payors, courts, and professional organizations that an impartial, objective Commission has reviewed the CBMT’s program. This impartial, objective review is particularly important for organizations like the CBMT that are structured to be independent from professional associations and have protection of the public as part of its mission. Accreditation and adherence to NCCA standards are an important check and balance for the CBMT Board of Directors to assure that the CBMT programs reflect the most current principles in the field of credentialing. Accreditation also shows licensure boards that the CBMT programs meet or exceed the same standards to which licensing boards adhere in test development and administration.

Second, membership in ICE affords the CBMT access to experts in the credentialing field and the most up-to-date information and state-of-the-art techniques available. The CBMT Board of Directors and staff use this network of experts for informal and formal consultation on a variety of issues. For example, when the recertification program was developed, the CBMT canvassed members for information about their recertification programs, thereby drawing on the experience of our colleagues in other professions and not re-inventing the wheel. The CBMT has used this kind of networking and information gathering many times over the years. When CBMT Board members have had the opportunity to attend an ICE educational conference or workshop, they have unanimously returned with new skills and ideas, a broader understanding of issues in certification, and enthusiasm for the importance of work of the CBMT.