Music Therapy FAQs

The following documents have been provided by the American Music Therapy Association:

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What is Music Therapy?

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.

Who is qualified to practice Music Therapy?

Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).

Are Music Therapists bound by clinical and ethical standards?

Yes. Music Therapists that are members of the American Music Therapy Association are required to follow the Code of Ethics that can be found here. Music Therapists are also expected to abide by the Standards of Practice.

Are there basic requirements that Music Therapists are expected to meet?

Yes, Music Therapists must demonstrate competency in the areas of Music Foundations, Clinical Foundations and Music Therapy. For more information click here.  I personally majored in violin and minored in piano, guitar and voice. I also play in the local symphony and in a quartet with friends.

How is Music Therapy different from entertainment and other bedside music?

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. Please see the attached document Music Therapy vs bedside music for more details.

Is Music Therapy reimbursed by third party payers?

Yes, it is a reimbursable service depending on the diagnosis and the insurance company. For more information, please visit the AMTA FAQ.

Is this worth the money?

Yes. On my very first day of work (ever), I brought in a guitar and picked a song to sing and a gentleman started singing louder than all other residents. As I later found out, the resident had a stroke years before and had attended speech therapy for an extended amount of time to no avail. Yet, on my first day he sang, and later eventually started to speak in one word phrases. If numbers speak to you then, this research will help convince you. I was one of the 3 Music Therapists hired for this study and 3 protocol that I wrote will be published and added to the Dementia Practice Guidelines.

Does my loved one have to be a musician to receive or benefit from Music Therapy?

No you do not need prior experience to benefit from Music Therapy. People are intrinsically musical as our heart rate and our breath are all natural rhythms. There are so many modalities within the field of Music Therapy and each session is individualized for each resident to maximize the benefit (this includes their preferences).