What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals in cognitive, physical, social, and/or emotional areas within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.  Music therapy is an established healthcare profession.

Music therapy interventions can be designed to:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Alleviate Pain
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation (musictherapy.org)

What do music therapists do?

Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.


Does Music Therapy Actually Work?

A number of credible sources are reporting the benefits of music therapy.  Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in a wide variety of healthcare and educational settings (musictherapy.org).  One only needs to skim The Journal of Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Perspectives to get a taste of the kind of research being done today on music’s ability to address the needs of a wide array of individuals, such as individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, and individuals struggling with depression and other mental health issues.  Other journals currently producing or discussing research that supports the effectiveness of music therapy include ScienceDaily (Oct. 2011), Behavioral and Brain Functions (Oct. 2011), The New York Times (Mar. 30 2009), Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (July 2009) and U.S. News & World Report (Sept. 2008).  Increasingly, science and the culture are catching up with what has always been evident: music can be used to bring healing.

Who can benefit from music therapy?

Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease and other aging related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor (musictherapy.org).