What does a Music Therapist do?

Plan, organize, or direct medically prescribed music therapy activities designed to positively influence patients' psychological or behavioral status.

Jobs Roles

  • Adapt existing or develop new music therapy assessment instruments or procedures to meet an individual client's needs.
  • Analyze data to determine the effectiveness of specific treatments or therapy approaches.
  • Analyze or synthesize client data to draw conclusions or make recommendations for therapy.
  • Assess client functioning levels, strengths, and areas of need in terms of perceptual, sensory, affective, communicative, musical, physical, cognitive, social, spiritual, or other abilities.
  • Communicate client assessment findings and recommendations in oral, written, audio, video, or other forms.
  • Confer with professionals on client's treatment team to develop, coordinate, or integrate treatment plans.
  • Customize treatment programs for specific areas of music therapy, such as intellectual or developmental disabilities, educational settings, geriatrics, medical settings, mental health, physical disabilities, or wellness.
  • Design music therapy experiences, using various musical elements to meet client's goals or objectives.
  • Engage clients in music experiences to identify client responses to different styles of music, types of musical experiences, such as improvising or listening, or elements of music, such as tempo or harmony.
  • Establish client goals or objectives for music therapy treatment, considering client needs, capabilities, interests, overall therapeutic program, coordination of treatment, or length of treatment.
  • Gather diagnostic data from sources such as case documentation, observations of clients, or interviews with clients or family members.
  • Improvise instrumentally, vocally, or physically to meet client's therapeutic needs.
  • Observe and document client reactions, progress, or other outcomes related to music therapy.
  • Plan or structure music therapy sessions to achieve appropriate transitions, pacing, sequencing, energy level, or intensity in accordance with treatment plans.
  • Sing or play musical instruments, such as keyboard, guitar, or percussion instruments.
  • Design or provide music therapy experiences to address client needs, such as using music for self-care, adjusting to life changes, improving cognitive functioning, raising self-esteem, communicating, or controlling impulses.
  • Select or adapt musical instruments, musical equipment, or non-musical materials, such as adaptive devices or visual aids, to meet treatment objectives.
  • Communicate with clients to build rapport, acknowledge their progress, or reflect upon their reactions to musical experiences.
  • Document evaluations, treatment plans, case summaries, or progress or other reports related to individual clients or client groups.
  • Assess the risks and benefits of treatment termination for clients.
  • Compose, arrange, or adapt music for music therapy treatments.
  • Conduct information sharing sessions, such as in-service workshops for other professionals, potential client groups, or the general community.
  • Conduct or assist in the conduct of music therapy research.
  • Identify and respond to emergency physical or mental health situations.
  • Integrate behavioral, developmental, improvisational, medical, or neurological approaches into music therapy treatments.
  • Apply selected research findings to practice.
  • Supervise staff, volunteers, practicum students, or interns engaged in music therapy activities.
  • Apply current technology to music therapy practices.
  • Collaborate with others to design or implement interdisciplinary treatment programs.
  • Participate in continuing education.
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