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What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the planned use of music experiences and the relationships that develop through them to accomplish non-musical goals, assisting people to experience life more fully.

Who provides music therapy?

Board-certified music therapists complete at least a bachelor’s degree program in music therapy at an AMTA-approved college or university, including coursework in music therapy, music education, music history and theory, psychology, and anatomy and physiology. Music therapy students study a primary instrument and perform solo and in small and large ensembles. They must demonstrate proficiency on piano, guitar, voice, and percussion instruments. Music therapy students also complete supervised clinical training beginning in the first few semesters of their undergraduate years.

Following the completion of music therapy coursework, music therapists must complete a six-month clinical internship then pass a board-certification exam, administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). Continuing education is required to maintain certification.

Who can benefit from music therapy?

Music therapists work with people of all ages with a wide range of abilities. People served by music therapists include those with physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and spiritual needs. Settings in which music therapists serve include medical hospitals and outpatient clinics, nursing homes, hospice, physical rehabilitation, mental health centers, psychiatric hospitals, schools, residential programs, day programs for the elderly or developmentally delayed, prisons, wellness centers, and private practice.

Music therapy does not work for everyone and may be contraindicated for some people. Whether music therapy is appropriate for a person is determined by an assessment completed by the music therapist.