According to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA),
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 is an established health profession in which music is used with individuals in a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.
Copyright © 1998-2011, American Music Therapy Association.
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If you’re looking for an answer that is a little bit easier to grasp upon first glance (or listen!), watch the 2 1/2-minute video created by music therapist Kimberly Sena Moore in which she parallels the work of a music therapist to a personal trainer on Psychology Today’s website.
For additional information about Music Therapy, please visit the American Music Therapy Association‘s website.