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5 Things You Need to Know about Music Therapy

By now, I hope most of our readers understand what music therapy is and the benefits it can produce in a variety of individuals. Now that you know the basics, I wanted to share 5 Things You Need to Know About Music Therapy! From the history of music therapy, to earning a music therapy degree, and styles of music therapy - you'll learn the versatility of this unique therapeutic approach!

1. Music Therapy isn't New

Music Therapy is a profession that has been referenced for centuries, but officially emerged in the 1900's. With several professional music therapy organizations beginning at the start of the 20th century, Music Therapy is not a modern approach to therapeutic intervention. Music Therapy gained popularity in the 1940's and the first Music Therapy program was developed in 1944 at Michigan State University.

2. Music Therapy is an Evidence-Based Practice

Some people assume the reason music therapy is not billable through insurance in most states is due to lack of research. On the contrary, Music Therapy is a heavily researched profession with 2 peer-reviewed journals available to music therapists throughout the US. Our breadth of research is not as large as some other professions because we have less therapists across the globe, and we are just recently able to measure the brain and body during a music therapy intervention through modern technology.

Music Therapy is currently considered an Emerging Practice, meaning there is evidence that music therapy can benefit individuals and help them reach their goals, but more research is needed. Other Emerging Practices include PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), social skills training groups, and AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices. Music Therapy is in good company in the area of Emerging Practice, and we hope the hard work our researchers are doing will help Music Therapy become a mainstream therapy.

3. Music Therapy is an Intensive Degree

Recently the AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) considered making Music Therapy a Master's Level Entry degree. This is a discussion that will be ongoing, but currently only an undergraduate degree is required to practice Music Therapy. Thought we don't all have Master's degrees, we undergo intense training throughout our 4 years of undergrad. Music Therapy students are required to take coursework in psychology, neuroscience, anatomy, and research methods - all in addition to our Music Therapy courses and music classes.

Throughout our 4 years of undergrad, Music Therapy students are also required to do 4 - 6 semester-long, clinical practicum rotations under supervision of a Board Certified Music Therapist. This allows students to implement theories and strategies from the classroom in clinical practice. After 4 years of intense study and training, Music Therapy students have to complete an additional 8- 10 month internship - totaling 1,040 hours - to be able to finally earn their degree. The final step to becoming a music therapist is the board certification exam. This is a national exam given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists which is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Once you pass the exam, you can officially become a music therapist and add the letters MT-BC to the end of your name!

4. Music Therapy has a Variety of Approaches

Just like traditional psychotherapy uses multiple theoretical frameworks for treatment, so does Music Therapy! You will find different styles of Music Therapy around the globe, but some of the most popular are behavioral, analytic, neurologic, holistic, and psychotherapeutic. A music therapist's specialty will depend on where they received their training as well as their continuing education after graduation. There are several additional training programs for music therapists who specialize in different areas such as NICU training, hospice training, and Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) training. Music Therapists are required to complete 100 continuing education credits every 5 years to maintain their certification, which allows music therapists to keep learning and growing in a variety of approaches throughout their career.

5. Music Therapy is not a Complimentary Therapy

Though Music Therapy is not as intense as ABA, which can have up to 40 hours of intervention time each week, Music Therapy is a valid therapy on its own. Music Therapy uses unique approaches to help clients reach goals in the areas of communication, cognition, motor/physical, social interactions, emotional expression, sensory regulation, and more! For some individuals, Music Therapy can be even more beneficial than other therapeutic approaches. Because music therapists are trained to use the versatility of music in session, they are able to reach goals and skills in a way others cannot. Music is a motivating, dynamic, and flexible medium that music therapists are trained to use to help each client reach their fullest potential!

To learn more about Music Therapy, you can visit the American Music Therapy Association website or poke around our blog under the tag "music therapy". We are happy to answer any questions you have about how Music Therapy can benefit you or someone you love!

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