What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a healthcare profession that utilizes music-based interventions to address physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and wellness needs.  Many people can benefit from music therapy. Music therapists currently work in medical hospitals, mental health centers, rehabilitation institutes, schools, geriatric facilities, hospice programs, correctional facilities, and in community settings to name a few. You can learn more about music therapy at the American Music Therapy Association’s website.


What makes Thrive Music Therapy different?

At Thrive Music Therapy Services, we believe that the most meaningful outcomes are achieved when the client and music therapist form a strong therapeutic alliance. When both parties work in tandem, growth happens! Our approach also emphasizes the importance of research-informed practice. Brea incorporates music psychology and clinical research to plan and facilitate effective music interventions. She regularly attends and presents at music therapy and music psychology conferences to stay updated on the latest research available.


What does a Music Therapy session entail?

It’s difficult to say what a “cookie-cutter” session looks like because music therapists are responsive to their clients’ clinical goals and individual circumstances. Common activities include song discussion, active music-making with drums or other instruments, songwriting, receptive listening, collaborative singing, movement, and other creative arts. Discussion often accompanies such activities.

Thrive Music Therapy sessions often begin with opening rituals (e.g., vocal exercises) or songs to warm up before starting the session. Then, Brea leads several music interventions (like those listed above) that provide multiple opportunities for the client to practice their clinical objectives. Clients often collaborate by choosing interventions and how the experiences unfold by making musical decisions. Sessions often end with a review of what was practiced during the session and a discussion of how to apply those skills to real-life situations during the week.


Who can practice Music Therapy?

Only board-certified music therapists are qualified to perform music therapy sessions. Additional licensure is required to practice music therapy in the state of Oregon. Training includes a college degree in music therapy, a supervised internship of 1040 hours, and successful completion of a board certification exam. With this education, music therapists learn how to design, implement, and document sessions within a therapeutic relationship.

Fantastic volunteers and musicians who provide musical experiences are often mistaken for professional music therapists. If pursuing or receiving music therapy services, please verify that you are working with a certified individual.


How can I become a Music Therapist?

Music  is the core tool of music therapy, thus a strong musical foundation is essential. A musician interested in becoming a music therapist must then earn a degree from a university approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Bachelor’s, equivalency, and Master’s degrees are all possible entry-level degrees. No matter the degree, requirements include music theory, psychology, music therapy theory, and hands-on practicum placements each semester. Upon graduation the student will be proficient in guitar, piano, voice, percussion, improvisation, and much more! After receiving a degree, music therapy students go on the complete a clinical internship of 1040 hours in their population of choice. Finally, music therapists must take a board certification exam on 150 questions given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Now, the music therapist has earned the MT-BC designation (Music Therapist-Board Certified) and may practice in any setting!