Music Therapy is the prescribed use of music, and the relationship that develops through shared musical experiences, to assist or motivate a person towards specific, non-musical goals. Music therapists use their training as musicians, clinicians, and researchers to effect changes in cognitive, physical, communication, social, and emotional skills. Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including educational, medical, psychiatric, wellness, and gerontology facilities.


Music Therapists have undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in music therapy from university programs approved by the American Music Therapy Association. They follow their degree with at least six months of full-time supervised clinical training. Music therapists must also be board-certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists; they become "MT-BC's" by taking a national exam, and maintain their status through continuing education or re-testing.

10 Therapeutic Characteristics of Music

Music captivates and maintains attention -- it stimulates & utilizes many parts of the brain. People often can respond to music even when other aspects of cognition are impaired.

Music is success-oriented -- people of all ability levels can participate.

Music structures time; it allows us to track various lengths of time, and can sometimes alter our perception of its passage.

Music provides a meaningful, enjoyable context for repetition.

Music provides a social context -- it sets up a safe, structured setting for verbal and nonverbal communication.

Music is an effective memory aid.

Music supports and encourages movement; in some cases, rhythm facilitates movement via synchrony in neuromotor & auditory pathways in the central nervous system.

Music taps into memories and emotions.

Music -- and the silences within it -- provide nonverbal, immediate feedback.

Music can ebb and flow, changing moment to moment to reflect the reactions and needs of the people who are listening or participating.

Music Therapy Organizations:

American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)
AMTA was founded in 1998. Its purpose is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971. AMTA is committed to the advancement of education, training, professional standards, credentials, and research in support of the music therapy profession.
(301) 589-3300

Certification Board for Music Therapists

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