Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

What is the history of music therapy as a health care profession?

The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato.  The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars.  The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals.  It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.  The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994.  The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music therapy.

Is there research to support music therapy?

AMTA promotes a vast amount of research exploring the benefits of music as therapy through publication of the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives and other sources.  A substantial body of literature exists to support the effectiveness of music therapy.

What is the American Music Therapy Association?

The American Music Therapy Association is the largest professional association which represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members and related associations worldwide.  Founded in 1998, its mission is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings.  AMTA sets the education and clinical training standards for music therapists.  Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971.