Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and well-being. Music therapists incorporate a range of music-making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship to address individual client goals.
Where do music therapists practise?
Music therapists often work as part of an allied health team in a variety of settings (including hospitals, residential aged care facilities, schools and the community etc) delivering tailored made music therapy programs to meet specific needs.
When should I see a music therapist?
There are a wide range of reasons that may lead a person to receive services from a registered music therapist. Some typical conditions include:
- Physical impairments (e.g. balance, gait, coordination, weakness, motor planning problems) caused by neurological injury, degenerative conditions, developmental delay
- Communication impairments (e.g. speech, language or voice problems, stuttering, respiratory dysfunction) resulting from neurological damage, neurodevelopmental disorders, developmental delay, intellectual disability
- Cognitive impairments (e.g. memory, attention, executive function) due to dementia, brain injury, intellectual disability, neurodevelopmental disorders, developmental delay
- Grief and loss (e.g. bereavement, adjustment to disability, changes in identity) resulting from disability, neurological damage, brain injury, dementia, trauma
- Pain management (e.g. cancer treatment, chronic pain conditions, burns debridement, physical rehabilitation) resulting from life limiting illness, disability, injury
What services do music therapists provide?
When working with all populations, music therapists use music-based interventions (in individual or group sessions) to address a range of cognitive, physical and socio-emotional goals determined through an assessment by the music therapist. These interventions may include singing, song writing, musical improvisation, receptive music listening and other speciality techniques. Areas of care that most readily benefit from music therapy include:
- Palliative care
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Special education
- Early childhood intervention
- Aged care
- Mental health
- Neo-natal care
How are music therapists qualified?
In order to practice as a registered music therapist, music therapists must meet the following requirements:
- Completion of a Bachelor or Master’s degree accredited by the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA)
- Registration with AMTA
- Continuing professional development set by AMTA
- Adhere to the Code of Conduct, Standards of Practice and By-laws for Grievance Procedures
For more detailed information about music therapy, please visit the Australian Music Therapy Association website.
To watch engaging case studies and interviews with leading music therapists working in pediatrics, disability, mental health, neurorehabilitation, and palliative and aged care, please visit the RMTs Change Lives website.
Find a practitioner
The Australian Music Therapy Association provides a Find a Music Therapist service which can be accessed here.