What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a discipline in which credentialed professionals (MTA*) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being. Music therapists use music safely and ethically to address human needs within cognitive, communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.

*Music Therapist Accredited/Musicothérapeute accrédité

Canadian Association of Music Therapists

June 2016

What does a music therapist do? 

Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.

Who benefits from music therapy?  

Music therapy is used with individuals of various ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds in institutional, community and private practice settings. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • AIDS
  • Autism and other Pervasive Development Disabilities
  • Critical Care
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Emotional Traumas
  • Geriatric Care
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Mental Health
  • Neonatal Care
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Pain Control
  • Palliative Care
  • Personal Growth
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Speech and Language Impairments
  • Substance Abuse
  • Teens at Risk
  • Victims of Abuse
  • Visual Impairments

Click here for more information about music therapy work with various populations

Where do music therapists work?  

Music therapists work in a variety of clinical settings. The following is a sample of where you might find a music therapist:

  • Hospitals
  • Day treatment programs
  • Community programs
  • Correctional Centres
  • Long term care centres
  • Substance abuse and addictions centres
  • Schools
  • Hospices
  • Private Practice
  • Early learning programs

How can I find a music therapist?  

Please visit Find a Music Therapist


Information supplied by:  

Canadian Association for Music Therapy:  www.musictherapy.ca

American Music Therapy Association: www.musictherapy.org