Music Therapy
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.  (American
Music Therapy Association, 2005)

Scholarly research in the field of music therapy can be found in
refereed journals such as the
Journal of Music Therapy, Music
Therapy Perspectives,
and the British Journal of Music

Who are music therapists?
Music therapists are individuals who have earned a minimum of
a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from one of the 70 AMTA
approved degree programs.  The course of study includes classes
in music therapy; psychology; music; biological, social, and
behavioral sciences; special education; and general studies.  The
course work also includes supervised fieldwork and a six- to nine-
month full-time internship.  Those who pass the national
certification exam become board certified (MT-BC).  Some
states also require licensure, e.g. a music therapist can become a
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in New York State.

What are some goals in music therapy?
  • Increase social interaction and social skills
  • Improve fine and gross motor coordination
  • Improve language and communication skills
  • Facilitate self-expression and increase quality of life
  • Reduce anxiety and provide organization for sensory
  • Improve attention and memory skills
  • Enhance learning of academic and functional living
  • Increase emotional awareness and improve mood
  • Reduce perception of pain

What is a typical session like?
Although there is no standard session because the session is
individualized to meet the client's particular learning style and
needs, these are some music therapy interventions that may be

  • Singing and vocal improvisation for speech and language
    development, communication, interaction, and self-
  • Playing instruments of all kinds for gross and fine motor
    development, self-expression, non-verbal communication,
    and auditory-motor integration
  • Songwriting and lyric improvisation for self-expression and
    expressive language skills
  • Movement to music to target motor needs
  • Topic-specific songs for enhancing memory, academic or
    ADL skills
  • Music guided relaxation

What is the difference between music therapy and music
Music education primarily addresses musical development and
typically focuses upon the final musical product.  Music therapy
is process-oriented, conducted by a certified music therapist, and
addresses non-musical goals and musical goals.

Why is music therapy effective?
  • Music is a universal language which can reach individuals
    with varying abilities, often when nothing else can.
  • For most people, especially children, music is enjoyable.  
    Therefore music therapy is a naturally reinforcing and
    engaging means of therapy.
  • Music therapy meets the client at his or her own level and
    is unique and individualized.
  • Music is multi-sensory and addresses several needs
  • The structure of music provides organization and a sense
    of security, encouraging clients to attempt new tasks.   
  • Making music is a naturally social, expressive, and
    communicative experience.
  • Because music is processed by both brain hemispheres,
    music therapy can stimulate and improve cognitive and
    speech and language skills.
"After silence, that which
comes nearest to expressing
the inexpressible is music."
 -Aldous Huxley

Chapel Hill, NC
and the Triangle



Links for more information:

The American Music Therapy

Voices: A World Forum for
Music Therapy  

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy