What is Music Therapy?
“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 interventions can be designed to:
- promote wellness
- manage stress
- alleviate pain
- express feelings
- enhance memory
- improve communication
- promote physical rehabilitation
Evidence-based practice or medicine can be described in a number of ways, but I prefer Rubin’s definition:
- Evidence-based practice is a process for making practice decisions in which practitioners integrate the best research evidence available with their practice expertise and with client attributes, values, preferences, and circumstances (Rubin, 2008).
The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum. The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994. The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music therapy.
American Music Therapy Association
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is the largest professional association which represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members and related associations worldwide. Founded in 1998, its mission is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. AMTA sets the education and clinical training standards for music therapists. Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971.
Music Therapy, as a profession, strives to provide evidence-based clinical practice and with that the AMTA promotes a vast amount of research exploring the benefits of music as therapy. AMTA promotes the literature through publications such as Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives and other sources. A substantial body of literature exists and is growing daily to support the effectiveness of music therapy. Current research highlights can be found at Kristin and many other research blogs. Check out Kristin’s blog to link to other useful websites for research updates.