How Do You Become a Music Therapist?

Music therapistIf you have an interest in music and a desire to help people, you might become a music therapist. As you can probably tell from the name, music therapists are health professionals who help patients therapeutically through the use of music. Their recommendations to patients may include writing, listening to, singing or moving to various forms of music. They are trained to help assess when a patient may be helped in recovery by therapeutic work involving music.

Types of Patients Who Might Benefit From Music Therapy

Music therapy can be of benefit to a variety of patients, including those suffering from physical illness or injury. It has also been shown to be of help to patients with social, psychological or cognitive challenges. Music therapy can assist patients in physical rehabilitation as they work to regain movement and mobility. It also encourages patients to find needed expressive outlets. Because music therapists can work with such a wide variety of patients, the settings in which they work vary too. If you to decide to enter this field, you could end up working in a clinic, in hospice care, through special education services, in substance abuse centers or in any number of other places.

Training to Become a Music Therapist

There are a variety of educational paths toward a career in music therapy. Having an understanding of music is crucial, but it’s also important that you study human development. In general, a bachelor’s degree in musical therapy needs to include core courses in four areas: musical foundations, clinical foundations, music therapy, and general education courses. Since it is considered a professional music degree, you will study through a department of music.

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Over 70 universities or colleges currently have bachelor programs that carry the stamp of approval from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Students enrolled in these programs take classes in psychology and science as well as in music and music therapy. They take part in fieldwork that provides them with the 1200 hours of clinical experience they need. Coursework, field work, and an internship all have to be completed before a graduate from one of these programs may take the national exam they will need to pass in order to become board certified. A certified music therapist has a credential of MT-BC.

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The bachelor’s degree is generally the requirement for entering the field, though some musical therapists do go on to do graduate work. This work enables them to learn further skills and competency, particularly in serving specific populations. There are presently about 30 degree programs at the master’s level that have been AMTA approved. Some therapists may even go on to a doctoral degree, especially if they want to work in administration or in teaching. The place to start, however, is at the undergraduate level. If you have an interest in pursuing that degree, it could be a good idea to talk with people who practice in the field and to gain some volunteer experience in health care settings. All of these things can help you in your goal to become a music therapist.