How to Become a Music Therapist

How to Become a Music Therapist

Are you passionate about music and helping others? Becoming a music therapist may be the perfect career path for you. In this guide, we will explore the steps required to become a music therapist, including the necessary education, training, and certification. Whether you are a musician looking to make a difference or a healthcare professional wanting to incorporate music into your practice, this article will provide you with valuable information on how to pursue a rewarding career in music therapy.

Education and Training

Becoming a music therapist requires a combination of education and training to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to work effectively with clients. Here are the key components of the education and training process:

Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy

The first step towards becoming a music therapist is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from a program accredited by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). These programs typically include coursework in music theory, psychology, anatomy, and music therapy techniques. Students also receive training in how to assess clients’ needs, develop treatment plans, and implement therapeutic interventions using music.

Clinical Training and Internship

In addition to completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring music therapists must also complete a period of clinical training and internship under the supervision of a licensed music therapist. This hands-on experience allows students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings, work with diverse populations, and develop their clinical skills. Many programs require a minimum number of hours of supervised clinical experience to graduate.

Certification and Licensing

After completing their education and training, individuals can pursue certification as a music therapist through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). This certification demonstrates that a music therapist has met the professional standards set by the CBMT and has the necessary skills and knowledge to practice competently. Some states also require music therapists to obtain a license to practice, which may involve passing a state licensing exam and meeting other requirements.

Overall, the education and training required to become a music therapist is rigorous and comprehensive, but it prepares individuals to make a positive impact on the lives of clients through the power of music therapy.

Skills and Qualities

To become a successful music therapist, there are certain skills and qualities that are essential for the role.

Musical Proficiency

One of the most obvious skills needed to become a music therapist is musical proficiency. This includes the ability to play multiple instruments, read music, and understand music theory. A strong foundation in music is crucial for creating therapeutic interventions tailored to each client’s needs.

Empathy and Compassion

Empathy and compassion are key qualities that a music therapist must possess. Clients often come to music therapy with a range of emotional and psychological challenges, and it’s important for the therapist to be able to empathize with their struggles and provide a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves through music.

Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are also essential for a music therapist. This includes the ability to listen actively, ask insightful questions, and provide feedback in a constructive and supportive manner. Clear and empathetic communication helps build trust and rapport with clients, leading to more successful therapeutic outcomes.

Job Duties

As a music therapist, your primary job duties will involve helping clients improve their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being through the use of music. This can include working with individuals of all ages, from children to seniors, who may be dealing with a variety of issues such as mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, or physical injuries.

Assessment of Client Needs

One of the key responsibilities of a music therapist is to assess the needs of their clients. This involves meeting with clients to understand their goals, strengths, and challenges, as well as conducting evaluations to determine how music therapy can best meet their needs. By gaining a thorough understanding of each client’s unique situation, music therapists can tailor their treatment plans to address specific issues and help clients achieve their therapeutic goals.

Development of Treatment Plans

After assessing a client’s needs, music therapists develop individualized treatment plans that outline specific goals, objectives, and interventions. These treatment plans are designed to address the client’s unique needs and may include activities such as listening to music, playing instruments, singing, or composing music. By creating a structured plan that is tailored to each client, music therapists can help clients make meaningful progress towards their therapeutic goals.

Implementation of Music Therapy Interventions

Once a treatment plan has been developed, music therapists implement a variety of music therapy interventions to help clients achieve their goals. This can involve leading individual or group music therapy sessions, guiding clients through therapeutic activities, and providing emotional support and encouragement. By using music as a tool for self-expression, communication, and emotional healing, music therapists help clients develop coping skills, improve their self-esteem, and enhance their overall well-being.


In conclusion, becoming a music therapist requires a combination of passion for music, empathy for others, and specialized training in psychology and music therapy techniques. By following the steps outlined in this article – obtaining a bachelor’s degree, completing a music therapy internship, and obtaining certification – aspiring music therapists can embark on a rewarding career helping others improve their mental, emotional, and physical well-being through the power of music. With dedication and perseverance, anyone with a love for music and a desire to make a difference can successfully become a music therapist and positively impact the lives of their clients.