What is Neurologic Music Therapy

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning and ongoing evaluation.  

The NMT profession is governed by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). AMTA’s purpose is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. AMTA is committed to the advancement of education, training, professional standards, credentials, and research in support of the music therapy profession.

Music therapy is process-oriented rather than performance-based, and individuals actively participate in musical interventions to achieve functional therapeutic outcomes. Individuals do not need to have any prior musical abilities or experience in order to benefit from music therapy.

Music is a very powerful tool with the brain. Just listening to music activates both hemispheres of the brain! In addition, music is very organizing and predictable. Music is processed in all areas of the brain and has the ability to access and stimulate areas of the brain that may not be accessible through other modalities. Music enhances and optimizes the brain, providing more efficient therapy. Music Therapy is unique in its ability to captivate and maintain attention, and it naturally motivates clients to work on their functional goals, feeling not threatened and motivated!

Who is a Music Therapist

A professional music therapist holds a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from one of over 70 American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved college and university programs. The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree is designed to impart entry-level competencies in three main areas: musical foundations, clinical foundations, and music therapy foundations and principles as specified in the AMTA Professional Competencies. In addition to the academic coursework, the bachelor’s degree requires 1200 hours of clinical training, including a supervised internship. Graduate degrees in Music Therapy focus on advanced clinical practice and research.

Upon completion of the bachelor’s degree, music therapists are eligible to sit for the national board certification exam to obtain the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist – Board Certified) which is necessary for professional practice. The credential MT-BC is granted by a separate, accredited organization, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), to identify music therapists who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to practice at the current level of the profession. The purpose of board certification in music therapy is to provide an objective national standard that can be used as a measure of professionalism by interested agencies, groups, and individuals.