What is Music Therapy?


Music Therapy as defined by the American Music Therapy Association:


     "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.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings."


In more simple terms, Music Therapy involves engaging in music with a Board Certified Music Therapist to improve overall quality of life and to enhance healthy living. 


Common goal areas adressed in Music Therapy:

  • Anxiety management/Stress management                                       

  • Pain management and other symptom management

  • Emotional expression and emotional support

  • Psychological support

  • Social support/enhancing community 

  • Promote development

  • Increase self-awareness

  • Increase self-esteem

  • Rehabilitation (physical and neurological)

  • Promote positive coping skills

  • Relaxation

  • Reality Orientation

  • Improve communication skills 

  • Life review/reminisence 

  • Enhance memory 

  • Coping with addiction

  • To facilitate the grieving process


Who can benefit from Music Therapy?

Anyone and everyone! Music Therapy sessions are individualized and adapted to your individual needs. Music Therapy is here to support you no matter what you might be going through. 


Common populations served:

  • Infants, toddlers, children, adolescents and adults with chronic or terminal illnesses

  • Older adults with dementia/Alzheimer's Disease

  • Individuals with multiple intensive developmental needs

  • Individuals with acute and chronic pain

  • Individuals with psychiatric needs

  • Individuals who are rehabilitating (from addiction, from trauma, from illness)

  • Individuals with neurological disorders

  • Individuals who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Individuals with Post Traumtic Stress Disorder

  • Premature infants and their families

  • The bereaved

  • Individuals at end of life/in Hospice care

  • Individuals in palliative care

  • At-risk youth

  • Individuals undergoing cancer treatment/cancer survivors

  • Anyone and everyone who is looking to improve their quality of life!


What happens during a Music Therapy session?

     What happens during a Music Therapy session will depend on the individual or the group's needs. Music Therapy interventions are tailored to support the unique and most pressing needs of the participant. The music therapy interventions will also reflect the participants interests and prefered music styles and will utilize the individual's strengths. Some examples of interventions that might be used in a Music Therapy session include:


  • Songwriting

  • Music Improvisation and active music making

  • Guided relaxation to music

  • Group music making

  • Use of creative arts with music such as drawing, painting and crafting and/or creating and decorationg instruments

  • The use of chanting, toning and positive affirmations

  • Creating a musical timeline of your life

  • Lyric analysis and discussion

  • Learning new instruments and enhancing musical skills

  • Music and meditation (meditative music making)

  • Music assisted breathing

  • Music and movement

  • Music tailored to address specific psyiological and physical symptoms

  • Gait training to music

  • Speech and language training through Melodic Intonation Therapy

  • Familiar/preferred music for memory stimulation

  • Musical play and musical games 

  • Music related projects and performances/recordings

  • For the NICU setting: multimodal stimulation, NICU approved lullaby and the use of the PAL device (Pacifier Assisted Lullaby)

  • Verbal processing

  • Free associative singing and vocal psychotherapy techniques 

  • Group drumming and percussion

  • Sing-a-longs and therapeutic vocal coaching

  • Active music listening




For more information about Music Therapy please refer to the American Music Therapy Association website here.

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© 2015 by Jenna Bollard