After watching this video or reading the article, I hope you will be able to answer the question, “what is music therapy?”.

A board certified music therapist (MT-BC) develops and implements music-based interventions to meet needs in physical, social, cognitive, and emotional functioning.

A board certified music therapist has completed an American Music Therapy Association-approved academic program, consisting of extensive training in musicianship, psychology, physiology, and music therapy techniques.  A music therapy student completes the required course work, as well as 1200 hours of supervised clinical experience, before becoming eligible to sit for the board certification exam.


What is music therapy?

 Music therapy is an exciting field in which professionally trained clinicians use music as a vehicle for therapeutic change. Music therapy is an allied health profession, which means that it is distinct from medicine, dentistry, nursing, and optometry. Some other allied health professions include physical therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy, psychology, and speech-language pathology, to name just a few.

A music therapist implements music-based interventions that are designed to support a client or patient as he or she works toward certain goal and objectives.  Common goal areas are: physical goals, social goals, communicative goals, emotional goals, and cognitive or academic goals. The American Music Therapy Association states that music therapy treatment can:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Alleviate Pain
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation

Typically, music therapy interventions utilize live music because it is more flexible and allows for interactivity with a patient or a group of clients. Because of this, a music therapist must be a highly skilled musician. He or she also needs a strong foundation in music therapy approaches, psychology, counseling, and a broad knowledge of diseases and disabilities.

Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, pediatric hospitals (which is where I work), school systems, psychiatric hospitals, prisons and forensic settings, nursing homes, care centers, rehabilitation centers, veteran’s hospitals, and in private practice.

The credential MT-BC, which stands for Music Therapist Board Certified, is awarded to someone who has completed all the necessary coursework, who has fulfilled 1200 of clinical training in the form of an intensive internship, and has passed the certification exam. See this article about how to become a music therapist. You can also find information at AMTA’s website.  To find a board certified music therapist or to learn more about the certification process, visit CBMT.

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