What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is a clinical intervention which aims to improve quality of life for people facing challenges through disability, illness or social diffculties. The therapist strategically harnesses the qualities of music like harmony, tempo and melody to develop a musical relationship with each client usually through live improvisation using instruments and voice.

Focussing on the client’s ability, rather than disability, the therapist plans musical interventions to help the client work towards aims which may include increased social interaction, vocal communication, improved motor skills and/or providing a space for emotional expression. Each course of music therapy is uniquely tailored to the particular needs of each client.

Music therapy has been found to be beneficial for people of all ages including those with autism, learning difficulties, mental illness, neurological difficulties, dementia, cancer and other conditions, within a wide range of institutions like schools, care homes and hospitals. Please see here for Cochrane Reviews of music therapy. A comprehensive music therapy evidence bank can be found here.

The term ‘music therapist’ is a protected title, and music therapists are highly skilled musicians who must complete a two-year masters degree involving placements with different client groups.

Music Therapy is an Allied Health Profession regulated in the UK by the Health & Care Professions Council.

The professional body for music therapists in the UK is the British Association of Music Therapy – www.bamt.org