What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the process where a client or client group works with a trained and accredited therapist to meet the physical, social and emotional goals of the client/s through the use of targeted musical interventions. This is a reflexive process which is different for each person, at each meeting. Music Therapy is similar in some ways to other allied health therapies (physio therapy, speech therapy, etc.) however in music therapy music is used as the way to connect and can be used for anyone at any point of life. Music Therapy is a research based therapy and is overseen in Australia by the Australian Music Therapy Association.

How is it different to entertainment or music education?

Music therapy is different from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and well-being.

Where music education aims to teach and improve on musical skills, music therapy rather uses music as a tool for growth, healing and self-expression. Therefore, anyone can be included in music therapy, prior musical training is not required. Music therapy also has the added benefit of social interaction, which separates it from simply listening to an iPod or CD.

What does a Registered Music Therapist do?

Registered Music Therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses.

They 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.

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 labour.

Music therapy can also be utilised to maintain good health. Healthy individuals can use music for stress reduction via active music making, such as drumming, as well as receptive listening for relaxation. Music is often a vital support for physical exercise.

Who is qualified to practice music therapy?

To become a Registered Music Therapist, a person must complete a two year accredited Masters course and hold registration with Australian Music Therapy Association.

What are music therapy goals and how are they set?

A Registered Music Therapist is responsible for liaising with other allied health professionals in order to set therapy goals for their clients.

An example of a music therapy goal would be, singing to increase lung capacity. Increased lung capacity then leads to better circulation and a stronger, healthier heart.

The music created in therapy simply acts as a platform for clients to reach their non-musical health goals, set by the Registered Music therapist and/or other health professionals.