Monday, September 18, 2023

What Do Music Therapists Do

The Bonny Method Of Guided Imagery And Music

What Does a Music Therapist Do?

To be trained in this method, students are required to be healthcare professionals. Some courses are only open to music therapists and mental health professionals.

Music educator and therapist Helen Lindquist Bonny developed an approach influenced by humanistic and transpersonal psychological views, known as the Bonny Method of guided imagery in music . Guided imagery refers to a technique used in natural and alternative medicine that involves using mental imagery to help with the physiological and psychological ailments of patients.

The use of guided imagery with autistic children has been found to decrease stereotypical behaviors and hyperactivity, increase attention and the ability to follow instructions, and increase self-initiated communication, both verbal and non-verbal.

Qualifications And Training Required

You do not necessarily need an undergraduate music degree to become a music therapist. However it is necessary to complete a postgraduate education and training course in music therapy that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council . You cannot practise as a music therapist unless you are registered with the HCPC. Postgraduate music therapy courses typically take two years full time or three to four years part time.

While you do not need to be a music graduate, musical proficiency is required and an audition is a standard part of the application process for music therapy postgraduate courses. You may be expected to have an undergraduate degree or professional qualification in a field such as social work or teaching if you do not have a music degree.

Relevant experience prior to postgraduate study is normally essential. This may not be related to music, but is likely to involve professional experience of a role involving caring for vulnerable people. Music therapy may not be a first career choice, and many people enter the profession later in life.

  • The ability to work with people from a variety of backgrounds
  • The ability to deal effectively with challenging situations

What Do Music Therapists Do

Certified music therapists conduct initial assessments, establish clinical goals in collaboration with the client and/or their care team as appropriate, directly implement the treatment plan, and document and evaluate the clients progress on a regular basis.

In music therapy sessions, certified music therapists combine counselling techniques with music-based interventions to accomplish non-musical goals within the context of a therapeutic relationship. Examples of this may be:

  • facilitating a song-writing activity with a client for them to express their grief

  • using music as a motivational tool to improve gross motor function for a client with cerebral palsy

  • singing a familiar comforting song with a client experiencing agitation/anxiety.

MTAs may also conduct or participate in research initiatives and provide and/or receive supervision. They may also take on instructor, consultant, or leadership roles.

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What Music Therapist Public School Systems Do

We looked at the average Music Therapist annual salary and compared it with the average of a Music Therapist, Public School System. Generally speaking, Music Therapists, Public School System receive $7,565 higher pay than Music Therapists per year.

While the salaries between these two careers can be different, they do share some of the same responsibilities. Employees in both Music Therapists and Music Therapists, Public School System positions are skilled in Mental Health, Treatment Plans, and Music Program.

These skill sets are where the common ground ends though. A Music Therapist responsibility is more likely to require skills like “Patient Care,” “Music Therapy,” “Intellectual Disabilities,” and “Hospice.” Whereas a Music Therapist, Public School System requires skills like “Crisis Intervention,” “Program Development,” “Physical Therapy Services,” and “Regular Basis.” Just by understanding these different skills you can see how different these careers are.

The education levels that Music Therapists, Public School System earn is a bit different than that of Music Therapists. In particular, Music Therapists, Public School System are 17.4% less likely to graduate with a Master’s Degree than a Music Therapist. Additionally, they’re 5.6% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

What Does A Recreational Therapist Do

What Do Music Therapists Do? (Special Needs)

A recreational therapist helps and encourages a patient with their physical, health, social, and mental well-being by creating and coordinating recreational-based treatment programs and techniques targeted towards the patients specific needs such as illnesses, disabilities or injuries. They use a multitude of treatments to help a patients improvement like games, arts and crafts, dance, music, or sports to promote the patients health.

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What Does A Music Therapy Session Look Like

We customize our sessions to each client and group we work with. We believe the key to a successful session is to set the environment for success by building a relationship of trust, respect, and self-worth.

Music therapy sessions with children and teens may look like a music lesson with a variety of instruments including piano, guitar and percussion instruments. The difference is that the outcome is to address the needs of the child or teen with expertly designed music experiences that engage, teach, foster growth, motivate and bring about desired behaviors.

A music therapy session with children and teens may include:

  • A hello song to signify the start of the session and encourage communication
  • A visual schedule to provide predictability and offer choice and control
  • Preferred music, original songs, age-appropriate songs
  • Following color-coded patterns on a drum
  • LIVE music so that we can adjust tempo, key, instruments to meet our clients needs in the moment

Music Therapy sessions with seniors typically take on a group format to foster connection, minimize isolation and maximize participation. Our sessions are designed to engage older adults cognitively, physically and emotionally by including them in the music-making process not merely entertaining them or just listening to music.

A music therapy session with seniors in nursing homes may include:

Job Description Of A Recreational Therapist

A recreational therapist uses recreational-based programs that they have developed, coordinated, and directed to help patients with injuries, illnesses or disabilities. They mix up the treatment according to their patients needs by using things like dance, music, arts and crafts, community reintegration field trips, sports or games. Recreational therapists strive to move the patient towards the improvement and maintenance of their social, emotional and physical well-being. Some of these treatment programs are medically approved and are used with patients in nursing homes, hospitals, or other places. They help achieve goals for a patient such as integrating them back into a community and to avoid future medical issues.

Recreation therapists watch and record a patients progress throughout the treatment process and adjust any areas that are needed to move the patient forward in their healing both mentally and physically. They collect any pertinent information needed to help assess a patients needs, capabilities, medical history, family support, and other valuable insight. They advise and motivate a patient to participate in leisure activities that have been designed to meet their specific challenges, psychologically, and physically.

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First Get A Music Therapy Degree

Education requirements for becoming a music therapist include topics like psychology, biology, social and behavioral sciences, in addition to general studies and career-specific courses.

According to the AMTA, your curriculum must also include 1200 clinical hours, completed through fieldwork such as an internship in healthcare or education.

Degrees are available between the bachelors level and masters level. Some schools offer higher-level degrees, such as doctoral options. In any degree program, youll cover topics like:

  • Musical foundations
  • General education

Here are a few schools that offer music therapy degree programs:

Berklee College of MusicBachelor of Music in Music Therapy: Youll take the expected therapy courses plus instrumental classes for a well-rounded introduction to the profession.

Biola UniversityBachelor of Music in Music Therapy: Biolas program combines music therapy coursework with interdisciplinary study with Biolas psychology department. However, this program is currently pending AMTA approval, according to the universitys website.

Loyola UniversityMaster of Music Therapy : The Masters degree in Music Therapy covers research, music therapy in medicine, theories, and multicultural issues.

Also, the university notes that the AMTA endorses Loyolas MMT program. To earn this degree, youll need to be Board Certifiedor you can take the equivalency program option instead.

Are You Suited To Be A Music Therapist

What does a music therapist DO?

Music therapists have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means theyâre creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also social, meaning theyâre kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if music therapist is one of your top career matches.

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What Is Music Therapy

Music therapy, also known as sound therapy, supports the therapy process in clinical settings. Thats a bit of a mouthful, so lets break it down.

During the therapeutic process, the patient, guided and aided by the therapist, takes steps towards, and hopefully achieves, positive psychological or physiological outcomes.

Patients are treated in clinical settings by professionals for specific, diagnosed physiological or psychological conditions. Usually, the treatment occurs at a hospital or clinic, over time, in face-to-face and one-on-one sessions.

Does Insurance Cover Music Therapy

Music therapy services may be funded by community grants, foundations and states. Children, youths and young adults may be eligible for music therapy services under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act . You may have to give a private payment to your music therapist, out-of-pocket.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/24/2020.


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What Are The Education Requirements For A Career In Music Therapy

Starting a music therapy career generally requires a bachelors degree in music therapy. These degree programs require completion of courses in the areas of both music and therapy, as well as courses in music therapy. Masters degree programs in music therapy are also available.

Although it may not be necessary in some areas, music therapists should consider becoming certified recreational therapists. In order to become certified, individuals must complete 480 hours of supervised work experience. They can then take the certification examination given by the the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.

A Look At The Psychology

What Music Therapy Can Do For You

Looking at a psychological theory of music therapy is extremely challenging, given the fact that there are multiple ideas regarding the mechanisms of music used as a therapeutic means .

The psychology of music is a relatively new area of study . Music therapy is a multi-disciplinary field, and the area of music psychology is an innovative interdisciplinary science drawing from the fields of musicology, psychology, acoustics, sociology, anthropology, and neurology .

Psychologists use experiments and diagnostics such as questionnaires, and the paradigm of cognition, to analyze what happens in music therapy .

Important topics in the psychology of music are:

  • The function of music in the life and history of mankind
  • The function of music in the life and identity of a person
  • Auditory perception and musical memory
  • Auditory imagery
  • The brains processing of musical inputs
  • The origin of musical abilities and the development of musical skills
  • The meaning of music and musical preferences for the forming of identity
  • The psychology of music performance and composition .

In understanding how people hear and perceive musical sounds, a part of music psychology is psychoacoustics ones perception of music . Another important facet of the psychology of music is an understanding of the human ear, and also the way the brain is involved in the appreciation and performance of music .

Lifespan music psychology refers to an individuals relationship to music as a lifelong developmental process .

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Fees For Music Therapy Services

The salary range for music therapists varies greatly province to province and city to city. Music therapists salaries vary based on location, setting, population, experience, training, full time or part time employment or private practice, as well as other factors. As access to professional music therapy services for Canadians increases, it is expected the disparity in salary range will equalize. Based on the wide variance, CAMT does not currently track the salaries of MTAs. On average, hourly contract fees charged by music therapists range from $35/hour to more than $115/hour. Average salary ranges are set at the provincial level.

The New Music Therapists Handbook Suzanne Hanser

This is a revised, updated version of Hansers 1987 book. It reflects recent developments in the field of music therapy.

This book serves as a go-to resource for both students and professionals. It contains an introduction to music therapy as a profession, provides guidelines for setting up a practice, and describes new clinical applications as well as relevant case studies.

Find the book on .

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Thats The Music Therapist Job Description

Regardless of the instrument you play or what clients you hope to serve, working in music therapy can be both rewarding and lucrative. Plus, the options for your career path are highly diverse.

From starting your own therapy practice to collaborating with daycares, special needs programs, elder care homes, or hospitals, there are tons of opportunities to find your niche.

Specialized educational programs and professional affiliations can also help. If youre hoping to pursue a formal degree and certification as a music therapist, our educational resources are a great start.

How Can You Tell If Music Therapy Is A Good Fit

An introduction to music therapy

In our recent article, Becoming a Music Therapist, Dr. William Davis, director of the undergraduate program in music therapy at Colorado State University, states A prospective music therapy major must be an excellent musician and willing to learn a variety of instruments such as guitar, piano, autoharp, hand percussion as well as be comfortable with singing. Also required is a level of comfort in interacting with people with disabilities, chronic pain, and/or debilitating mental health problems. Dr. Cathy McKinney, Music Therapy Program Director at Appalachian State Universitys Hayes School of Music adds that music therapists must commit to lifelong professional development since the profession is continuing to grow and evolve.

To get a hands-on sense of whether a music therapy degree is your calling, the American Music Therapy Association suggests contacting them and asking for a list of music therapists in your area who would be open to job shadowing. Brian Wilson, director of music therapy at Western Michigan University, also suggests volunteering with Special Olympics, hospitals or nursing homes, where you can gain experience working with the populations likely to benefit from music therapy.

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Trade Associations For Music Therapists

Like any profession, trade associations offer assistance and guidance to music therapists on their career path. Trade associations are resources for people who are interested in music therapy, or are practicing and need to stay up to date on new developments.

As an educational and therapeutic field, music therapy requires consistent professional development. Just as your high school teacher must take professional development days, music therapists require consistent relicensing from the Certification Board for Music Therapists .

Certification Board For Music Therapists This is a group of music therapists who are leaders in their field. In order to become a music therapist, you must pass the MT-BC Examination administered by them.

American Music Therapy Association This association is the main advocacy and promotional body of music therapy in the United States. They set the standards of the discipline industry-wide, and coordinate with the CBMT in licensing, certification, and accreditation for universities offering music therapy degrees.

World Federation of Music Therapy Founded in Italy in 1985, the World Federation of Music Therapy promotes the practice around the world, funds research, and builds higher standards for the discipline globally.

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Just Exactly What Is Music Therapy

Typically, music therapists use music as therapy to work on non-musical goals.

Huh? Non-musical goals?

Because music affects so many different parts of the brain, we can use it and work within it to address things like: communication skills, physical/motor skills, academic/cognitive skills, emotional health, socialization, and more.

How does it differ from music education? Well, in music education, the goal is to actually teach music skills. Without music educators, there wouldnt be any music therapists!

Music therapists utilize their music skills, as well as an array of clinical skills learned in a program at a college or university, to tap into universal musical abilities and responses to music in order to achieve therapeutic goals.

Because music therapy is an allied health profession like physical therapy, dance therapy, occupational therapy, and others there is significant training involved in becoming a music therapist.

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Why Use A Registered Music Therapist

Registered Music Therapists are not only skilled musicians, they are trained in understanding the effects music experiences can have on behaviours, feelings, thoughts and actions. Music therapists use their therapy training and musical ability to facilitate interactive musical experiences to help clients achieve goals. These goals may include improved communication, cognition, physical function, mood, wellbeing, and/or spiritual goals.

Is Music Therapy A Stressful Job

What Is Music Therapy and What Does a Music Therapist Do?

The music therapy profession, one of many helping professions, is both highly rewarding and meaningful, and also emotionally and physically draining. Many music therapists experience a high level of stress on the job due to the emotionally-charged nature of the work and the potential for physical exhaustion.

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What Are The Benefits Of Music Therapy

Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in six areas: psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual, cognitive and social.


  • Stress management.


  • Music can affect the body by changing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure and respiration rate.
  • Improved motor development or processing.
  • Relaxation and/or improved sleep.
  • It can physically stimulate conscious or unconscious body movements, such as toe tapping or large body movements, and improved gait and speech.
  • Management of and/or distraction from pain.
  • Reduced asthma episodes.
  • Help premature infants with weight gain and sleep.
  • Help people with Parkinsons disease improve their motor functions.


  • Music can open the door spiritually and allow you and your family the opportunity to explore your own spiritual beliefs.



  • Music can bring people together socially, not just at large gatherings such as parties, weddings, or funerals, but in more informal, intimate, shared experiences, like a hospital room
  • Help autistic children improve communication.

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