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.
Adapted piano lessons are typically taught by board-certified music therapists experienced in working with people who have special needs. Focused on establishing a solid foundation in music theory, ear training, and performance, therapists use adapted approaches and material to foster success. Examples of adapted approaches include: Utilizing sticker charts to encourage appropriate behavior, singing versus speaking directions, scheduling short breaks throughout lessons, and facing the piano and piano bench away from the audience during a performance. Examples of adapted material include: Providing simplified music arrangements, and covering pictures printed in music books to increase focus.
Traditional Piano Lessons are typically taught by teachers with backgrounds in music. Taught with individualized approaches to help students master musical concepts, they are taught with the primary goal of providing a solid foundation in music theory and performance.
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 can all benefit from music therapy.
Since music therapists serve a wide variety of persons with many different types of needs there is no such thing as an overall typical session. Sessions are designed and music selected based on the individual client's treatment plan.
Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).
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.
Some misconceptions about music therapy include that the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy -- they do not. Another misconception is that there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest -- this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient's life. The individual's preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient's goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use.
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Telehealth/therapy is subject to the same AMTA Standards of Clinical Practice established for face-to-face music therapy, including consent, assessment, and documentation. Discretion and critical decision making are necessary to discern whether telehealth/therapy services are appropriate for individual clients. Adherence to the AMTA Code of Ethics is expected as it outlines professional conduct principles for all music therapy interventions, whether provided face-to-face or through telehealth/therapy.