What is Music Therapy? And Other Common Questions

What is music therapy?


Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.


Canadian Association for Music Therapy / Association de Musicothérapie du Canada Annual General Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 6, 1994


What credentials and training do music therapists have?


Accredited music therapists (MTAs) in Canada are required to complete a bachelor's and graduate degree in music therapy, followed by a 1000-hour supervised clinical internship. When these two components are completed, candidates are required to complete a board certification exam.


In order to retain their MTA credential, music therapists are required to maintain their credential every five years by participating in continuing education.


With whom do music therapists work, and where?


Music therapists work in a wide variety of institutional, community, and private practice settings, with individuals of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. This includes, but is not limited to: autism, down syndrome, acquired brain injury, school settings, palliative care, long term care facilities, neonatal care, substance abuse, mental health, youth at risk, physical disabilities, and speech and language impairments.


Do I need experience or training in music to participate in music therapy sessions?


No! Participating in music therapy does not require any training or experience.


What is the difference between a music therapist and a volunteer musician working at a facility?


Three main differences exist between music therapists and volunteer musicians:

Music: In music therapy, music is picked to address certain goals or subject areas. A volunteer generally chooses songs based on preference and enjoyment.

Relationship: A therapeutic relationship is created in music therapy sessions to help create a safe place for clients to achieve their goals and address personal issues. 

Change: Music therapy sessions work on changes that apply to the client's day to day life outside of sessions. Goals being addressed are intended to be long term, rather than just a short term change of mood or entertainment.


Where can I find more information on music therapy?


The Canadian Association for Music Therapy


Music Therapy Association for Alberta


Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy


Or contact Hilary to find out more!

© 2020 by MasterworX Music Therapy. 

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