Music Therapy - Description and Practice
Click here for professional requirements of a music therapist.
In Fulton County Schools, the music therapists are required to hold current board certification and state licensure as a music therapist.
The professional field of music therapy has a long and fascinating history, and has received unprecedented exposure in the past few years. Books (such as Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home), a movie (The Music Never Stopped), reports by ABC and other media outlets highlighting music therapy as an innovative treatment option, and various blogs (both discipline-specific and in mainstream media) have all contributed to expanded public awareness of the depth and scope of music therapy.
From the American Music Therapy Association:
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.
Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.
What Music Therapy Is ... and Is Not
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) supports music for all and applauds the efforts of individuals who share their music-making and time; we say the more music the better! But clinical music therapy is the only professional, research-based discipline that actively applies supportive science to the creative, emotional, and energizing experiences of music for health treatment and educational goals. Below are a few important facts about music therapy and the credentialed music therapists who practice it:
- Music therapists must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from one of AMTA’s 72 approved colleges and universities, including 1200 hours of clinical training.
- Music therapists must hold the MT-BC credential, issued through the Certification Board for Music Therapists, which protects the public by ensuring competent practice and requiring continuing education. Some states also require licensure for board-certified music therapists.
- Music Therapy is an evidence-based health profession with a strong research foundation.
- Music Therapy degrees require knowledge in psychology, medicine, and music.
These examples of therapeutic music are noteworthy, but are not clinical music therapy:
- A person with Alzheimer’s listening to an iPod with headphones of his/her favorite songs
- Groups such as Bedside Musicians, Musicians on Call, Music Practitioners, Sound Healers, and Music Thanatologists
- Celebrities performing at hospitals and/or schools
- A piano player in the lobby of a hospital
- Nurses playing background music for patients
- Artists in residence
- Arts educators
- A high school student playing guitar in a nursing home
- A choir singing on the pediatric floor of a hospital
- Work with Congresswoman Giffords to regain her speech after surviving a bullet wound to her brain.
- Work with older adults to lessen the effects of dementia.
- Work with children and adults to reduce asthma episodes.
- Work with hospitalized patients to reduce pain.
- Work with children who have autism to improve communication capabilities.
- Work with premature infants to improve sleep patterns and increase weight gain.
- Work with people who have Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function.
AMTA’s mission is to advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world. In consideration of the diversity of music used in healthcare, special education, and other settings, AMTA unequivocally recommends the unique knowledge and skill of board certified music therapists.
1. American Music Therapy Association http://www.musictherapy.org/
2. Brain injury: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_MindBodyNews/gabby-giffords-finding-voice-music-therapy/story?id=14903987
Bradt, J., Magee, W.L., Dileo, C., Wheeler, B.L., & McGilloway, E. (2010). Music therapy for acquired brain injury. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010(7), doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006787.pub2.
3. Lessen effects of dementia: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/musicinstinct/blog/cognition/how-music-can-reach-the-silenced-brain/31/
4. Reduce asthma episodes: http://respiratory-care-sleep-medicine.advanceweb.com/Article/The-Sound-of-Music-4.aspx
5. Reduce pain: http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2011/01/music_therapy_eases_patients_p.html
6. Improve speech in people with Autism: http://www.shsu.edu/~pin_www/T@S/sliders/2012/lim.html
7. Improve sleep patterns and increase weight gain in premature infants: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/04/15/lullabies-other-music-may-help-sick-preemies/
8. Increase motor function in people with Parkinson’s: http://www.themiamihurricane.com/2013/02/07/music-therapy-helps-tackle-parkinsons/
Clair, A. A., Lyons, K., & Hamburg, J. (2012). A feasibility study of the effects of music and movement on physical function, quality of life, depression, and anxiety in patients with Parkinson's disease. Music and Medicine, 4 (1), 49-55.