Does Medicare Cover Music Therapy?
Medicare will pay for outpatient music and art therapy if your doctor prescribes it as medically necessary. Unfortunately, many insurance companies don’t recognize these practices as mental health benefits and won’t reimburse you for services provided by an in-network therapist. When searching for a therapist who accepts Medicare, make sure they have at least a master’s degree in art therapy or music therapy.
Mia Krings, clinical training supervisor at Greater Chicago Music Therapy in Oak Park, recommends selecting an experienced and reputable therapist to provide care. “Having someone knowledgeable about the treatment approach as well as having a strong connection with you” is paramount, she states.
Your initial session with a therapist likely involves a personal assessment, in which they will discuss your background and goals. They then decide what type of intervention and frequency best meets your needs, according to Stewart. Generally, this process takes between 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
Music therapists tailor their care to each individual’s individual needs, particularly those with a history of trauma or PTSD. During an initial consultation, the therapist will also determine what type of music you enjoy listening to and which songs may trigger certain feelings in you.
Krings believes music has the power to help you manage a variety of stressors. It reduces stress hormones, boosts dopamine release and creates new neural connections.
Music can also lift your spirits and help you focus on positive thoughts. Listening to music has been known to strengthen the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory formation.
Therefore, if you’re struggling with depression or other mental health conditions, finding a music therapist who can work with you to enhance your sense of well-being and self-esteem is essential, according to Lisa. Furthermore, ask if they have experience working with the specific condition you are struggling with.
Be sure to inquire if the therapist is an MT-BC, meaning they have passed a national examination from the Certification Board for Music Therapists. This confirms they are qualified to work with patients of all ages and backgrounds.
Your therapist may provide you with several opportunities to incorporate music into sessions, such as singing or playing an instrument. Krings refers to this practice as “active music making,” which can be especially beneficial for individuals suffering from ADD or ADHD.
Another popular practice is creating a “legacy” CD of music that has special significance to the patient and their family, such as a song that captures the person’s life or an arrangement of beloved tunes. This can serve as a comforting gesture after someone passes away, helping loved ones cope with the grief.