What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is a well-established, research-driven profession in which a credentialed music therapist utilizes music strategies and exercises within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals of all ages. Music therapy is an allied health service much like physical, occupational, or speech therapy, using music as the medium to attain the goals.
Music therapists use both instrumental and vocal music exercises in individual and group sessions to target non-musical goals. After a thorough assessment of the strengths and needs of each client, music therapists design treatment plans, monitor ongoing progress through evaluation and participate as members of the interdisciplinary team to support a vast continuum of outcomes.
Music is a powerful and noninvasive medium, and therefore unique outcomes are possible – outcomes that can benefit clients, family members, and support staff. Employment may be in general hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, mental health agencies, hospice programs, forensic settings, out-patient clinics, public and private schools, community-based centers and may take the form of contractual/consulting private practice.
Who It’s For
Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other aging related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor can benefit from music therapy. Healthy individuals can use music as a wellness tool for stress reduction and relaxation.
Why It Works
- Music strategies can develop new recreational and leisure skills
- Music captivates and maintains attention
- Music can increase appropriate social skills (turn-taking, following directions, cooperation, and participation)
- Music provides a way to express self through verbal & nonverbal means
- Music encourages positive forms of behavior
- Music develops independence, leadership, creativity & decision making skills
- Music can make positive changes in mood & emotional states
- Music enhances movement, including improvement of fine and gross motor functioning
- Music provides immediate feedback
- Music is success-oriented
Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills of an individual through musical responses; plan music sessions and experiences for individuals and groups based on client needs; participate in interdisciplinary treatmentplanning, continually evaluate progress, and follow up.
We utilize vocal and instrumental techniques to facilitate non-musical changes.
Q. Do Insurance Companies include music therapy in their services?
A. Insurance companies are recognizing the advantages of including music therapy as a benefit as they respond to the increasing market demand for greater patient choice of health care services. Companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Great West Life, Aetna, Metropolitan, and Provident have reimbursed for music therapy services. Music therapy is comparable to other health professions like occupational therapy and physical therapy in that individual assessments are provided for each client, service must be found reasonable and necessary for the individuals’ illness or injury and interventions include a goal-directed documented treatment plan. Like other therapies, music therapy is typically pre-approved for coverage or reimbursement, and is found to be reimbursable when deemed medically necessary to reach the treatment goals of the individual patient. Therefore, reimbursement for services is available in a large variety of health care settings with patients with varying diagnoses.
Q. What are the educational credentials of a music therapist?
A. Graduates of colleges or universities from one of seventy approved music therapy programs are eligible to take a certification examination in music therapy. The MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified) is issued by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), an independent, non-profit corporation, fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The CBMT programs meet or exceed the same standards licensing boards adhere to in test development and administration. The MT-BC is granted by the CBMT to an individual upon a) successful completion of an AMTA approved academic and clinical training program, and b) successful completion of a written objective national examination demonstrating current skills in the profession of music therapy; and is maintained through re-certification every five years through reexamination or upon the successful completion and documentation of 100 Continuing Music Therapy Education credits.
Q. Is there research supporting music therapy?
A. Yes, there is extensive research about the effectiveness of music therapy, both in music therapy publications and other related sources. The Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives are available through the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).