WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?

 

Music therapy is the clinical application of music by an accredited music therapist to achieve non-musical goals in each individual or group. It is a recognized health profession in which music is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, communicative, and social needs of clients. Activities include listening, moving, singing, and playing.

Children Playing Bongo Drums

PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

What Makes Us Stand Out

MUSIC THERAPY CREDENTIALS

Music therapists earn the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified) after successful completion of:

  • a 4 year Music Therapy program approved by the American Music Therapy Association

  • 1,200 hours of supervised clinical training 

  • board certification exam administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

MUSICIANSHIP

Music therapists must demonstrate collegiate proficiencies in music theory, music history, voice, guitar, and piano.

CLINICAL FOUNDATION

Music therapists receive rigorous academic training in courses such as Anatomy & Physiology, Advance and Abnormal Psychology, Child Development, Social and Behavioral Science.

 

MUSIC THERAPY APPLICATIONS

According to the American Music Therapy Association, the most prevalent clinical populations served by music therapists include the following:

  • Developmentally disabled

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Alzheimer's/Dementia

  • Behavioral disorders

  • Neurologically impaired

  • Hospice

  • Special Education

  • Early childhood

  • Learning/Physical disability

  • Medical/surgical

  • Substance abuse

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Head injury

  • Rett Syndrome

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

 

COMMON MUSIC THERAPY GOALS

COMMUNICATION

Receptive language
Expressive language
Verbal communication
Nonverbal communication

COGNITIVE

Rational thinking
Orientation to time, place, person
Attention
Memory
Discrimination skills

EMOTIONAL

Expressivity
Creativity
Spontaneity
Mood

PHYSICAL

Sensory-motor skills
Sensory integration
Perceptual-motor skills
Gross/Fine motor coordination
Eye-hand coordination

PSYCHOSOCIAL

Self-awareness
Self-efficacy
Motivation
Coping mechanism
Compliance
Self-discipline
Impulse control

EDUCATIONAL

Pre-academic skills
Academic skills

DAILY LIVING

Self-help (eating, toileting, bathing, dressing, etc)
Independence

QUALITY OF LIFE

Well-being
Self Actualization
Personal growth
Acceptance

 

MUSIC THERAPY FAQ

WHAT IF I'M INTERESTED IN MUSIC THERAPY BUT CAN'T READ MUSIC, SING, OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?

The ability to respond to music is intrinsic within every person. Since music therapy addresses non-musical goals, patients need no prior music training or advanced skill to participate in music therapy sessions.

HOW LONG DOES EACH THERAPY SESSION TAKE?

Depending on the individual or group, music therapy sessions generally range between 30-60 minutes.

HOW MANY SESSIONS SHOULD ONE PARTICIPATE IN?

Depending on the individual’s needs, music therapists may only perform a handful of sessions with a client, such as in hospital settings.  Music therapists may only meet with a client once, such as providing support for patients who are passing away and their families.  Clients with chronic, prolonged, or reoccurring diagnoses may see a therapist for generally up to two years, at which point objectives should have achieved and wellness strategies may take the place of music therapy.  However, every client-therapist relationship is unique and no generalization will appropriately include treatment for all clients.

CAN HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS BENEFIT FROM MUSIC THERAPY?

Absolutely! Healthy individuals benefit from music therapy through:​

  • Learning relaxation techniques

  • Maintenance of vital physical exercise

  • Socialization and fun recreation

  • Stress reduction through active music making, such as drumming

  • Stress reduction through passive listening

WHAT IS A TYPICAL MUSIC THERAPY SESSION LIKE?

Since music therapists serve a wide variety of population with many different types of needs, each session is uniquely designed. Some common intervention include but are not limited to: ​

  • Songwriting and/or improvisation for original pieces of music

  • Lyric analysis and discussion

  • Singing, humming, vocalizing to improve articulation, language acquisition, etc

  • Interactive music making (instruments)

  • Music and movement

  • Learning through music​

  • Guided imagery, music, and relaxation exercises

  • Using instruments to improvise unspoken emotions

IS MUSIC THERAPY SUPPORTED BY RESEARCH?

Yes! Music therapy is an established health profession. Its practices are evidence based and substantiated by a body of literature, such as the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives, among others. 

Click here to be redirected to AMTA’s research.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES MUSIC THERAPY FROM OTHER THERAPIES THAT UTILIZE MUSIC AS PART OF THEIR TREATMENT?

When comparable professions (i.e., educators, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists) report using music as part of their treatment, it only involves specific, isolated techniques within a predetermined protocol, using a pre-arranged aspect of music to address specific issues. This differs from music therapists' qualification to provide interventions that utilize all music elements in real time to address issues across multiple developmental domains concurrently.