Yumiko Sato Music Therapy

Journey Into Wholeness

Music Therapy Q&A

What is music therapy?

“Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social needs of individuals.” — American Music Therapy Association 

What do music therapists do?

Music therapists use various music activities to promote changes that are non-musical in nature.

Who is qualified to practice music therapy?

To be a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) persons need to complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula and a six month internship.  Then they’ll be eligible to sit for the national examination.

Do music therapists have to be able to play music?

Yes.  Music therapists must be competent in piano, guitar, and voice.  Many music therapists play more instruments, depending on their musical backgrounds and the clients they work with.

Where do music therapists work?

Music therapists work in various locations – psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled persons, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, schools, and private practice.

What is the history of music therapy?

Using music as a healing medium dates back to ancient times.  But the profession of music therapy in the U.S began to develop during WWI and WWII.  Musicians went to Veterans hospitals to play for those who were suffering from physical and emotional trauma from the wars.  Medical professionals and musicians recognized the effect of music on the veterans which promoted the development of music therapy programs in the universities.

Who can benefit from music therapy?

Everyone.  Even healthy adults can benefit from music therapy.  Music therapists serve a diverse populations encompassing the entire lifespan from prenatal to end-of-life experiences.

What does music therapy look like?

Music therapy may look different, depending on the clients who receive the service.  Music therapy with a child with autism consists of different music activities from those with a hospice patient, for instance.  But the principle remains the same: Music therapists use music to address non-musical goals based on the needs of the client.

How is music therapy used in hospice and palliative care?

Music therapists working in hospice and palliative care may use music to provide opportunities for anxiety and stress reduction, pain management, life review, and positive changes in mood and emotional state.  Music therapy can also help patients and families spend a meaningful time together while promoting relaxation, conversations, and sharing of feelings.


American Music Therapy Association

What is Music Therapy?  by Ronna Kaplan

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