Music Therapist

A music therapist’s job description is very unique because it incorporates the functions of a musician, therapist and scientist all rolled up in one. Music therapy is used as an interpersonal process wherein the therapist uses music with all of its facets – emotional, physical, mental, aesthetic, social and spiritual, in helping their clients maintain or improve their health. In some cases, music is used in addressing the client’s needs. In others, the issues are addressed depending on the relationship that developed between the client and the therapist.

Music therapy is used on people of all ages with various conditions that include psychiatric disorders, physical handicaps, medical problems, sensory impairments, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, interpersonal problems, aging, and communication disorders. It is also used in improving learning, reducing stress, building self-esteem, supporting physical exercise and in facilitating a lot of other health-related activities.

Currently there are more than 70 universities and colleges offering the music therapist degree as well as music therapist continuing education in America and one in Canada.

Music Therapist Education Requirements

If you want to become a music therapist you must first finish the basic college coursework requirements and music therapist requirements. Choose a college degree program, preferably a Bachelor’s degree related to the field of music therapy that is approved by the American Music Therapy Association. After its completion you must undertake a 6 month internship in clinical training with an approved training site. Upon finishing your internship you can now take the national board certification examinations given by Certification Board for Music Therapists. Once you pass the exams, you are awarded with the title of MT-BC or board certified music therapist.

What courses count towards Music Therapist

The common coursework to complete a music therapist required education includes subjects in music, anatomy & physiology, psychology & therapy, social & behavioral sciences, biology and disabilities.

What levels of degrees are available for Music Therapist

A Bachelor’s degree is your basic training that is combined with music therapy coursework on the basic education classes like math, english and others. The degree is completed in 4 1/2 years (an equivalent of 130 hours with internship) and is divided into 3 main subjects. The main subjects are music, music therapy and general studies.

You can take an equivalent degree to a Bachelor’s degree program. These are usually taken by students who have a bachelor’s degree that is not in the area of music therapy. The students will be required to take music therapy courses in the undergraduate level to complement the music therapist education requirements. The coursework are subjects like anatomy, music, psychology and others. The program with internship is completed in 2 years. Students without a music degree will take longer to finish the program.

A Master’s degree is a simple, straight-forward program for graduate school taken after the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. Graduates will take coursework aside from the training needed to complete the music therapists requirements. Students can take a master’s equivalency program if they have completed a bachelor’s degree not related to a music course. They will have to comply with the same requirements for the master’s degree, complete an internship and depending on the university they have enrolled in, will or will not have to submit a thesis. The graduates of a master’s degree and its equivalent program are awarded with the title of MA, MM or MME. The master’s degree also prepares a student for the board certified examinations. The master’s degree program is usually completed in 2 years but for students without a degree in music therapy , it will take 30 semester hours beyond the equivalency or undergraduate program.

A Doctorate degree program is offered only by a handful of schools. Pursuing this Music therapists continuing education results to a PhD (philosophy doctorate) or a EdD (degree in Education) or a PsyD (psychology doctorate degree).

What are the financial requirements to become a Music Therapist

The financial costs in acquiring a degree in Music Therapy may vary depending on the degree the student is taking, the variable costs on top of the tuition, the state or location of the school and the residency of the student.

One school in the US offers a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy at $544 per credit hour, $200 technology fee, $90-$130 for residency fees, $15-$40 per night of residency housing and an application fee of $35. This does not include the cost of books.

What the continuing education requirements for Music Therapist

The Certification Board for Music Therapists grants the certification for music therapy. It is awarded upon the completion of the degree requirements or equivalency program for music therapy with an accredited university or college by the American Music Therapy Association. The candidates should successfully complete the national standard examination on music therapy. Upon receiving the certification, the music therapist is required to maintain their certificates and update their skills and knowledge with continuing education and more music therapist certification and certificates.

What are the skills necessary to become a Music Therapist

To be an effective music therapist, you must have the following music therapist qualifications:

  1. Must have the in-depth knowledge on the power of music and has the ability to reach people through playing instruments and singing
  2. Must have a wide knowledge of music and ability. They should be able to perform a variety of music like rock, jazz, country and other popular styles
  3. Must be in good physical as well as mental health. They should have the motivation, maturity and stamina to work with the exceptional individuals in a therapeutic way
  4. Must have the emotional stability and self-awareness needed in entering a helping relationship with their clients who has problems

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

n kinjalk January 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

The information given is a good overview.Thanks.
I am a postgraduate (MD) i.e. Doctor of Medicine.Completed MBBS (1985) and MD (1992),practising as a Consultant in Medicine and Cardiology.
I am also A- Grade accredited artist (Indian Classical Instrumental Music : SITAR) on Akashwani(All India Radio & Television). Doing PhD in Music here right now on Music for the hypertensives.
I have been into music therapy research for more than 20 years.
Please give me information about workshop, short courses or distant learning in music therapy in USA.
Also how can I get a board certification.
What waivers can I get in the wake of my previous trainings?
Thanks again.
N. Kinjalk


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