Music Therapy

What is music therapy?

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Who are music therapists?

A professional music therapist is an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) -approved university program. These programs require music therapy students to complete 1200 hours of clinical training, including a supervised internship.

Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree, music therapists are eligible to sit for the national board certification exam to obtain the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist – Board Certified) which is necessary for professional practice.

What do music therapists do?

Music therapists must first receive a referral in order to begin the treatment process for music therapy services. A referral may come from a parent/guardian/advocate, member of another discipline, music therapist, or the client. After receiving a referral, the music therapist will complete as assessment to determine appropriateness of services. If music therapy is deemed an appropriate course of treatment, the therapist will then begin to provide services based on the following goal areas: physical, cognitive, social/emotional, and/or communication. The amount of services, or dosage, is determined on a case-by-case basis. Generally, music therapy services are at least provided on a weekly basis.

Music therapists utilize a variety of evidence-based interventions to attain specified goals and objectives. Such interventions include, but are not limited to:

  • Songwriting
  • Lyric analysis
  • Musical improvisation
  • Instrument learning
  • Music and movement
  • Learning through music
  • Adapted music lessons
  • Communicating through music
  • Music-guided relaxation
  • Group drumming
  • Music listening

Where do music therapists work?

  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Rehabilitative facilities
  • Medical hospitals
  • Public/private schools
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Day care treatment centers
  • Agencies serving persons with developmental disabilities
  • Community mental health centers
  • Drug and alcohol programs
  • Senior centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospice programs
  • Correctional facilities
  • Halfway houses
  • Private practice

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(AMTA, 2017)