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. (American Music Therapy Association, official definition)

What education and training is required to become a music therapist?

Graduation from one of 70+ approved music therapy degree programs, 1200 hours of supervised clinical work, and successful completion of the board certification exam to obtain the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist – Board Certified).

Where do music therapists work?

Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including (but not limited to) schools, hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, hospices, rehabilitation centers, and private practice.

Who benefits from music therapy?

Music therapy is beneficial for people in all stages of life, from premature infants to people who are actively dying, and many ages and conditions in between. This may include pediatric patients, children with a history of trauma, children or adults with behavioral disorders or mental health issues, individuals with developmental disabilities, individuals with visual or hearing impairments, those undergoing rehabilitation after stroke or traumatic brain injury, veterans, individuals dealing with substance abuse issues, geriatric adults (including those with dementia), and many others.

What does a music therapy session look like?

Music therapy sessions are designed to meet the specific goals of each individual or group. They may take place at the client’s home, school, or place of treatment. The sessions may include singing, playing instruments, movement to music, composing or improvising music, or talking about music. The music therapy client’s participation may be active or passive, depending on their needs or abilities. For more about music therapy specifically in the hospice setting, please see this article.

How are goals determined?

The music therapist conducts an assessment during the first visit(s) with the client, in order to determine the focus of treatment and to set individual goals related to the client’s greatest needs. These goals may be related to social, emotional, cognitive, motor, spiritual, or communicative functioning. Future sessions are then planned in order to address these goals.

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