What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is NOT simply listening to music on a set of headphones or putting on music to relax. It is not what happens when a special education teacher plays guitar or when a psychotherapist includes music in the therapeutic session. Music therapy is a highly specialized form of treatment that requires targeted study-simply put, music therapists are SPECIALISTS.
Who is a Music Therapist?
Music therapy is practiced around the world and as a result, training looks slightly different everywhere you go. In the United States, music therapists are individuals who have….
- Completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy (or equivalency program) at an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) accredited college
- Completed coursework in music (music theory, conducting, arranging, music history, composing, ear-training, sight-singing, etc.)
- Completed coursework in psychology (general psychology, abnormal psychology, childhood development, statistics and analysis, etc.)
- Completed coursework in music therapy (assessments, documentation and data analysis, intervention planning, termination planning, the clinical applications of music, anatomy and physiology, and how the brain responds to music)
- Demonstrated proficiency in guitar, voice, and piano minimum (most music therapists play many other instruments!)
- Completed a minimum of 1200 clinical training hours as a music therapist (typically including a 6-7 month intensive internship)
- Passed the board certification exam administered through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) earning them the credentials MT-BC (music therapist-board certified)
- Earned 100 continuing education credits every five years they are board-certified.
In the state of Connecticut, music therapy is a protected title. Only board-certified music therapists may practice or say that they practice music therapy. As of October 2016, any individual who claims to practice music therapy without the credentials MT-BC can be charged with a Class D Felony.
What does music therapy work on?
The goals of music therapy vary widely from person to person. (To learn more about who music therapy can benefit, click HERE) At Infinity, we look at the whole person and not just the label of a diagnosis. Treatment can focus on pain management, cognition, motor skills, emotional literacy, social development, speech and language, quality of life, and just about everything in between! A treatment plan may be laser focused on one domain area or may cover multiple areas of functioning. In addition, music therapy can offer some wonderful “side effects” as part of treatment. Individuals may walk away with additionally developed skill areas or the ability to play an instrument even if it wasn’t the intended focus of music therapy simply because music is a multi-sensory stimulus that impacts the brain in many ways. Broad goals in treatment may include:
- To improve receptive language skills
- To improve expressive communication skills
- To improve social skills
- To improve gait
- To improve range of motion
- To improve emotional literacy skills
- To improve attention to task
- To improve hand-eye coordination
- To improve positive coping skills
- To decrease perceived levels of stress
- To decrease processing time
- To improve quality of life
- To improve pain management
- To improve parent-child bonds
- To improve memory recall
- To improve academic skills
- To improve peer relations
- To process feelings of grief
What is the difference between music education and music therapy?
What does a music therapy session look like?
- Therapeutic instrument play
- Movement to music
- Lyric Analysis
- Adapted Music Lessons
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Therapeutic singing exercises
- Drum and chant work
- Song re-creation
- Music Video Production
- Imagination-based play through song
- Books set to song
- Life Review through Song
- Drawing to music
- Journaling to song
- Guided Imagery
What instruments do music therapists use?
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