Music therapyMusic therapy is the use of music in therapy. Music therapists are found in every area of the helping professions, though some of the most commonly found practices include developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with elderly, and processing and relaxation work with typical or sometimes physically ill individuals.
The idea of music as a healing modality dates back to the beginnings of history, and some of the earliest notable mentions in Western history are found in the writings of ancient Greek philsophers.
Music therapy in its current/modern form has existed in the United States since around 1944, when the first degree program in the world was founded at Michigan State University.
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was founded in 1998. It was created as a merger between the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT, founded in 1950) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT, founded in 1971). Numerous other national and international organizations exist. In the United States, a music therapist is designated by MT-BC (Music Therapist, Board-Certified). A music therapist with only this designation has a bachelor's in music therapy and is trained in the specific use of music therapy techniques as an adjunctive/augmentative therapy complementing the work of other practitioners from different disciplines such as social work, speech/language, physical therapy, medicine, nursing, education, and so forth. A music therapist often will have a clinical master's degree (social work, mental health counseling, or the like) and will have additional credentials and professional licenses, and will typically practice in a manner that incorporates music therapy techniques with broader clinical practices such as assessment, diagnosis, psychotherapy, rehabilitation, and other practices. Music therapy services rendered within the context of a social service, educational, or healthcare agency are reimbursable by insurance and sources of funding for individuals with certain needs. Music therapy services provided by a private practitioner who holds licensure in one of the helping professions are also reimbursable. Music therapists may also hold the designations of CMT, ACMT, and RMT, which were conferred by the now-defunct AAMT and NAMT.
A degree in music therapy requires proficiency in guitar, piano, voice, music theory, music history, reading music, improvisation, as well as varying levels of skill in assessment, documentation, and other counseling and healthcare skills depending on the focus of the particular university's program. To become board-certified in the United States, a music therapist must complete 1200 hours of clinical training in addition to required coursework, research, and other requirements.
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