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.”  (musictherapy.org, “What is Music Therapy”)


Music Therapists must complete a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy (or an equivalent program), which includes courses in psychology, human development, anatomy, special education, and core music classes.  After coursework and music proficiency tests have been completed at the university level, they must complete a 6 month internship (1200 hours of clinical work), and pass a board certification exam (thereby gaining the credentials of MT-BC: Music Therapist-Board Certified).  Continuing education credits are then required every five years.


Music Therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, mental health centers, geriatric facilities, hospice, special needs, etc.  A music therapist conducts an assessment and develops a treatment plan that includes goals and objectives.  Data is taken throughout the course of treatment that provides for ongoing assessment.  Target goal areas may include communication, social skills, cognition, emotional regulation, behavior modification, and motor skills.  Music is often performed live (usually on guitar, piano, or other accompanying instrument) in order to meet the needs of the client in the moment.  Singing, improvisation, movement to music, instrument playing experiences, and songwriting are some of the techniques that are employed to meet these goals.