Qualifications of a Music Therapist

According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), a professional music therapist holds a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from one of over 70 AMTA approved college and university programs.  The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree is designed to impart entry level competencies in three main areas: musical foundations, clinical foundations, and music therapy foundations and principles as specified in the AMTA Professional Competencies.  In addition to the academic coursework, the bachelor’s degree requires 1200 hours of clinical training, including a supervised internship.  Graduate degrees in Music Therapy focus on advanced clinical practice and research.

Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree, music therapists are eligible to sit for the national board certification exam to obtain the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist – Board Certified) which is necessary for professional practice.  The credential MT-BC is granted by a separate, accredited organization, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), to identify music therapists who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice at the current level of the profession.  The purpose of board certification in music therapy is to provide an objective national standard that can be used as a measure of professionalism by interested agencies, groups, and individuals.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, “personal qualifications of a Music Therapist include a genuine interest in people and a desire to help others empower themselves.  The essence of music therapy practice involves establishing caring and professional relationships with people of all ages and abilities.  Empathy, patience, creativity, imagination, an openness to new ideas, and understanding of oneself are also important attributes.  Because music therapists are musicians as well as therapists, a background in and love of music are also essential.”