History of Music Therapy

“The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century profession formally began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients’ notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum.” Music therapy is now an established allied healthcare profession. Board-certified clinicians serve many community and healthcare populations through individualized, research-based treatments. To help you discover more, the American Music Therapy Association offers a short history, as well as a more detailed chronology of events from 1940 – 2010.


SOP 11: Education and Clinical Training Requirements

“A qualified music therapist must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) or higher from a music therapy degree program approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and must have successfully completed a minimum of 1,200 hours of supervised clinical work through pre-internship training at the AMTA-approved degree program, and internship training through AMTA–approved National Roster or University Affiliated internship programs, or an equivalent. Upon successful completion of the AMTA academic and clinical training requirements or its international equivalent, an individual is eligible to sit for the national board certification exam administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).”


SOP 10: Music Therapy Governing Bodies

Music therapy in America is governed by two separate organizations: the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).

AMTA is our professional association responsible for establishing education and clinical training standards, supporting music therapy research, upholding ethical standards, educating the public about music therapy, and increasing access to quality music therapy services. Among many other initiatives to advance music therapy and support music therapists, AMTA organizes annual conferences and publishes the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives.

CBMT is an “Independent, non-profit, certifying agency fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).” “The purpose of board certification in music therapy is to provide an objective national standard that can be used as a measure of professionalism and competence by interested agencies, groups, and individuals. The MT-BC credential may also be required to meet state laws and regulations.” CBMT is responsible for assessing the knowledge required for safe and competent practice, for issuing the music therapist credentials of Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC), and for maintaining high standards of continuing education or recertification.


SOP 00: The 2015 Scope of Music Therapy Practice (SOP)

Who is and who is not qualified to practice Music Therapy? What training does a credentialed Music Therapist receive? What is the potential for harm if someone lacks this professional preparation? The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the independent Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) co-published the latest 2015 Scope of Music Therapy Practice (SOP), available online here. Stay tuned – The Rhythm & Reason Blog presents quotes and succinct summaries of the SOP using the tag “Scope Of Practice”.