Frequently Asked Questions
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 definition, 2005)
What do music therapists do?
Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.
Who can benefit from music therapy?
Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease and other aging related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor.
Where do music therapists work?
Music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, 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, schools, and private practice.
What is the history of music therapy as a health care profession?
The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum. The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994. The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music therapy.
Who is qualified to practice music therapy?
Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC). The National Music Therapy Registry (NMTR) serves qualified music therapy professionals with the following designations: RMT, CMT, ACMT. These individuals have met accepted educational and clinical training standards and are qualified to practice music therapy.
Is there research to support music therapy?
AMTA promotes a vast amount of research exploring the benefits of music as therapy through publication of the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives and other sources. A substantial body of literature exists to support the effectiveness of music therapy.
What are some misconceptions about music therapy?
That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy -- they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest -- this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient's life. The individual's preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient's goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use.
How is music therapy utilized in nursing homes, adult day programs, and in a client's home?
Music is used with elderly persons to increase or maintain their level of physical, mental, and social/emotional functioning. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of music can help maintain a person's quality of life.
How is music therapy utilized in psychiatric facilities?
Music therapy allows persons with mental health needs to: explore personal feelings, make positive changes in mood and emotional states, have a sense of control over life through successful experiences, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships.
What is the American Music Therapy Association?
The American Music Therapy Association is the largest professional association which represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members and related associations worldwide. Founded in 1998, its mission is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. AMTA sets the education and clinical training standards for music therapists. Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971.
What is the most common type of music in music therapy?
Music therapists utilize music as a therapeutic tool; the genre and type of instrument is tailored to the individual and to the goals that are established between the client and the music therapist. Since music choice/usage is tailored to each client’s needs and preferences, there is really no "most common" type of music or instrument. All styles of music have the potential to be useful in effecting change in a client’s or a patient's life. The individual's preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the goals established will help the trained music therapist determine what music to use.
How does one become a music therapist?
Those who wish to become music therapists must earn a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved program and have at minimum the entry level credential, MT-BC to ethically practice as a music therapist. The curriculum includes coursework in music, music therapy, biology, psychology, social and behavioral sciences, and general studies. Clinical skills are developed through 1200 hours of required fieldwork, including an internship in healthcare and/or education facilities. These experiences allow students to learn how to assess the needs of clients, develop and implement treatment plans, and evaluate and document clinical changes. Once the music therapy degree is earned and internship is completed, the student is eligible to sit for a board certification exam to earn the entry level credential, MT-BC, (music therapist, board certified) from the credentialing body, the Certification Board for Music Therapists.
What is the music therapy credential?
MT-BC is the credential required to ethically practice as a music therapist. Once coursework and clinical training are completed, one is eligible to take the national examination administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), an independent, non-profit certifying agency fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. After successful completion of the examination, graduates are issued the credential necessary for professional practice, Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC). To maintain this credential, music therapists must demonstrate continued competence by completing 100 recertification credits or retaking and passing the CBMT examination within each five-year recertification cycle. The MT-BC credential is awarded and administrated by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). More information can be found at www.cbmt.org.
What attributes does one need to be a music therapist?
Personal qualifications include an interest in people and a desire to help others empower themselves. Those who are considering music therapy as a career must be accomplished musicians. A music therapist must be versatile and able to adjust to changing circumstances. Music therapists should demonstrate care and concern and be able to offer emotional support for clients and families. Patience, empathy, imagination, tact, openness to new ideas, a sense of humor and creativity are important qualities for professionals in this profession. Music therapists must express themselves well in speech and in writing. In addition, they must be able to work well with other health care providers.
What instrument does a music therapist need to play?
Music therapists must also be trained, accomplished musicians. Common instruments used are guitar, piano, percussion, voice, etc., but a music therapist must be versatile and able to adjust to changing circumstances and many different instruments may be used within a therapeutic context. There is not one single instrument every music therapist needs to play in every session, but rather, music therapy students choose one instrument to be their major instrument of focus during their educational course of study and are given basic training on a variety of instruments. The choice of instrument or musical intervention used in a music therapy session is dependent upon goals and objectives, the client's preferences, and the music therapist's professional judgement.