What is Music Therapy?

According to 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 therapists must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from one of AMTA’s 72 approved colleges and universities, including 1200 hours of clinical training.
  • Music therapists must hold the MT-BC credential, issued through the Certification Board for Music Therapists, which protects the public by ensuring competent practice and requiring continuing education. Some states also require licensure for board-certified music therapists.
  • Music Therapy is an evidence-based health profession with a strong research foundation.
  • Music Therapy degrees require knowledge in psychology, medicine, and music.

So what does that mean?

In grad school, my Drexel professors always reminded us that music therapy is about bringing out the healthy aspects of a person, whether emotional, physical, or cognitive. In my clinical experience during school, I saw the power of music therapy while working with geriatric patients with schizophrenia as they were able to focus on the here and now, instead of their psychosis, thanks to the drumming session or singing along to a favorite song. Or when I worked with teenagers with multiple physical and mental disabilities, and I saw them interact and engage with each other in healthy, social ways through sharing instruments and choosing classmates to make music with.

Working with the early childhood population, my work as a music therapist is to encourage the healthy and natural development of the children in this critical time of their development. Some children experience delays, especially in speech or social skills, and other children already have or will soon have diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). All of the children at YCCA are also learning and developing important social, physical, and pre-academic skills necessary to help prepare them for further education.

As a music therapist, my main goals for the children that I focus on for my music therapy interventions are as follows:

  • improving social skills
  • increasing communication and self-expression
  • developing fine and gross motor skills
  • promoting self-awareness of personal space and personal needs
  • improving frustration tolerance and adaptation
  • increasing self-esteem and a greater sense of mastery of the environment
  • developing pre-academic skills (numbers, colors, ABCs, etc)

But most importantly my favorite parts of my job are building relationships with the children and creating/strengthening the community where I work. I want every child to feel appreciated and loved; every child should believe that they are an important and vital part of the world around them.

I hope that this blog sheds light on some of the music therapy interventions that I use as well as how music therapy can be influential for young children.

For more information about music therapy, explore AMTA’s website here.


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