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8455 Colesville Road, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910 - page 1 / 4





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American Music Therapy Association, Inc.

8455 Colesville Road, Suite 1000, Silver Spring, MD 20910

(301) 589-3300

fax (301) 589-5175

email: amta@musictherapy.org

website: www.musictherapy.org


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. It is an established health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy and consists of using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive and/or social functioning for patients of all ages. Because music therapy is a powerful and non-invasive medium, unique outcomes are possible. In addition to its applications in mental health, music therapy is used successfully in a variety of additional healthcare and educational settings.

How Does Music Therapy Make a Difference for Persons with Mental Health Needs? Music therapy is an efficacious and valid treatment for persons who have psychosocial, affective, cognitive and communicative needs. Research results and clinical experiences attest to the viability of music therapy even in those who are resistive to other treatment approaches. Music is a form of sensory stimulation that provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with it. Music therapy for clients with mental health concerns uses musical interaction as a means of communication and expression. The aim of therapy is to help individuals develop relationships and address issues they may not be able to address using words alone. Music therapy sessions include the use of active music making, music listening, and discussion.

What do Music Therapists Do? Music therapists use music strategies, both instrumental and vocal, which are designed to facilitate changes that are non-musical in nature. Music selections and certain active music making activities are modified for client preferences and individualized needs (i.e., song selection and music may vary). Music therapy programs are based on individual assessment, treatment planning, and ongoing program evaluation. Frequently functioning as members of an interdisciplinary team, music therapists implement programs with groups or individuals that display a vast continuum of needs, from reduction of anxiety to deeper self-understanding.

What Can One Expect From a Music Therapist? Music therapists work with the interdisciplinary team to assess emotional well being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses. When individualized music experiences are designed by the music therapist to fit functional abilities and needs, responses may be immediate and readily apparent. Clients need not have a music background to benefit from music therapy. Music therapy intervention provides opportunities to:

  • Explore personal feelings and therapeutic issues such as self-esteem or personal


  • Make positive changes in mood and emotional states

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