Music Therapy – A Fieldwork Primer
Music therapy is one of the fastest growing fields within healthcare, as more health related allied healthcare professionals incorporate music into treatment plans. Unlike other methods which may limit you to one technique or prearranged aspect of a song, music therapy involves manipulating multiple musical elements with skillful manipulation by an experienced therapist in order to produce positive outcomes for clients.
According to the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMTA), music therapy is “the specific use of musical elements to achieve therapeutic goals within a clinical setting.” In other words, it’s a form of music-based therapy that addresses non-musical objectives like learning, memory and social skills. Furthermore, musical experiences help improve physical and cognitive abilities as well as emotional regulation and self-expression.
Music therapists’ workspace may include an office, private home or large therapy room; however, the primary concern should always be safety and comfort. Emotional safety requires limiting exposure to emotional triggers while physical safety may require keeping sharp implements away from vulnerable patients.
A music therapist’s duties include assessment, treatment planning, documentation and ongoing evaluation of clients. They must also be knowledgeable about various music-based therapies and strategies for working with diverse client populations.
Music therapists work with people of all ages and abilities. This may include children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders, mental illness and physical disabilities such as stroke, brain injury or chronic pain.
They can provide services to those in the military, half-way houses and group homes. A music therapist utilizes a blend of music-making, movement, vocalization and improvisation techniques tailored to each client’s individual needs.
The music therapist’s relationship with their patient is essential for successful sessions. Excellent interpersonal skills and compassion for those in need are necessary attributes in this profession, as well as an eagerness to empower people through music.
Music therapists must become members of the American Music Therapy Association and adhere to its Code of Ethics. In addition, they must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program in music therapy as well as complete 1200 hours of fieldwork prior to becoming registered music therapists.
Music therapy students gain hands-on experience through placements at various facilities under the direction of a licensed music therapist. This includes orientation to the facility, observations of patient behavior and responses to interventions, as well as basic program design and implementation skills.
Students will acquire instruction in the use of instruments such as piano, voice and guitar – which are commonly found in clinical settings. Through music they will discover how to enhance physical, cognitive and emotional skills of clients.