What exactly IS Music Therapy?
Michelle Muth
November 18, 2013

Every time I give a presentation or ask someone if they have heard of music therapy I am so grateful that the response is typically “yes.”  This is leagues ahead of the general public awareness 10 years ago. My followup question is “Do you know what music therapy is?”  That’s when I get the blank look, fewer hands are raised, or just the simple answer of “no.”  Personally, I love that answer as educating and advocating for the profession is part of who I am, not simply what I do.  As you read this first newsletter from M3 Music Therapy I thought it might be helpful to give quick snapshot about music therapy.

Take a moment and think about when you might listen to music…

  • it might be simply as background music to help you focus
  • while you are in the car after a rough day to give your spirits a lift and help you transition to your home life
  • help you relax before drifting off to sleep
  • putting the ear pods in for a run with just the right music to keep the pace going to accomplish your exercise goals

Now, imagine using that power of music intentionally, in a therapeutic relationship, to:

  • help a young child with autism sing their first words
  • stabilize the gait of someone with Parkinson’s
  • hear a dementia sufferer sing a song when they haven’t spoken for months.

This is what music therapists do.  We are health care professionals that use music, in a therapeutic relationship, to help achieve non-musical goals.  Our training is extensive with the minimum requirement of a 4-year degree in music therapy, 1200 hours of clinical training, including a supervised internship (typically 6 months full-time after coursework) and then sitting for the national board certification exam.  Once passed continuing education courses are required to renew credentials every five years.  Many music therapists further their education with masters and doctoral work or advanced certifications in areas such as Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) which I hold.

For more information about music therapy visit: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/.