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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, communication, emotional, musical, physical, social and spiritual domains.

Canadian Association of Music Therapists 

June 2016


What does an Accredited Music Therapist do?


Conducts an Assessment 

The first few sessions with a music therapist are an assessment period where health information, input from the client’s team (family members, caregivers, multi disciplinary team members; SLPs, teachers, recreation therapists etc..) and observation of musical responses  are collected.


Develops a Treatment Plan

The music therapist then creates goals and objectives for the client to work towards, ultimately increasing their quality of life. Goal areas may vary broadly depending on the needs of the client. Music therapists create music experiences for the client to actively take part in to address the goals and objectives outlined in the plan.


Evaluates the Treatment Plan 

Music therapists continually monitor their clients progress. They adapt and make changes to the treatment plan as required. Documentation is an important part of music therapy to ensure clients are benefitting from the program. The treatment plan ends when goals are met, clients are moving on or wish to discontinue music therapy.  

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What can music therapy assist with?  

Music therapy interventions can address many aspects of one’s life. Music therapy goals are as broad as the clients we serve. Here are some common goal areas in music therapy; 

  • Improve communication

  • Express and explore emotions

  • Motivate physical rehabilitation 

  • Improve social interaction

  • Manage stress/pain 

  • Support childhood development 

  • Motivate learning 

  • Enhance memory 

  • Promote wellbeing

  • Provide relaxation


Who is Music Therapy for? 

Music therapists serve a broad range of people with diverse backgrounds and needs. 

  • Acquired Brain Injury

  • Autism 

  • Critical Care

  • Developmental Disabilities

  • Emotional Traumas

  • Geriatric Care

  • Hearing Impairments

  • Neonatal Care

  • Oncology

  • Pain Control

  • Palliative Care

  • Personal Growth

  • Physical Disabilities

  • Mental Health Difficulties

  • Speech and Language Impairments

  • Substance Abuse

  • Teens at Risk

  • Victims of Abuse

  • Wellness Promotion

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What does a music therapist do? 

Music therapists draw on many types of interventions, all of which are designed to promote active participation from the client. 

Techniques music therapists adapt to work on specific goals include:  

  • Singing

  • Movement and Dancing

  • Instrument playing/ Improvisations

  • Drumming

  • Songwriting

  • Musical life review

  • Novel instrument exploration

  • Song choices

  • Lyric Analysis and discussion

  • Musical games and learning activities

  • Active listening


Becoming an Accredited Music Therapist

Music Therapists must complete 3 stages of training to become a Certified Music Therapist (MTA).  


  • Music Therapists must complete a degree program from an approved post-secondary institution: Bachelor of Music Therapy (BMT) or Masters of Music Therapy (MMT). 


  • Music Therapists are required to complete an1000 hour internship upon completion of academic studies. This allows for Music Therapy Interns to develop their skills, try new approaches and to begin a process of self-evaluation. All music therapy interns are supervised by an Accredited Music Therapist.  


  • Upon completion of the internship, a music therapist must complete an exam with the Canadian Association of Music Therapists. When the music therapist passes the exam they become an Accredited Music Therapist (MTA) and submit yearly continuing education requirements to maintain this designation.   

For more information about Music Therapy programs in Canada visit here