At a Music Therapy session there will be a wide range of musical
instruments available. The sessions are largely client-led meaning
that the therapist responds to and supports whatever music or sounds
the client makes. The session is based on the client and therapist
improvising together. This can either be a completely free way of
playing or may be based on a discussion, feeling or anything else that
the client brings with them to therapy. Over time and through playing
together, the client and therapist will develop a relationship which
can help them work through their difficulties. Although the session
is based on active music-making, the client can use the space in a
way they feel comfortable. If there is a time when they need to talk
or be silent, the therapist will support this.
With children, the Music Therapist would provide some structure to
the session such as 'hello' and 'goodbye' songs and perhaps some
familiar nursery rhymes to help engage the child. What happens in a
session depends very much on the individual client and what their
No. In Music Therapy the instruments used are accessible for
all. There is more of an emphasis on improvisation and being
able to express yourself through the music.
Learning musical skills is not the aim of Music Therapy. However,
it is possible that musical skills may develop over the course of
therapy as you become used to playing with another person. You may
develop more of a sense of rhythm or pitch as time goes on. However,
this is secondary to the main aims of therapy.
Sessions usually take place once a week at the same time and in the same
The aims of Music Therapy will vary depending on the client's
needs and difficulties. They will be established following
an assessment, taking into account the original reasons for referral
to Music Therapy.
Here are a few examples of typical aims a Music Therapist might be
working towards with a client:
This list is endless but hopefully the above will have given you some idea of what the aims of Music Therapy
might be. The above are quite general whereas they would be more specific and tailored to the
individual on their assessment report. Some of the above are clearly intended for clients who might be non-verbal or physically disabled whereas
other aims may be applied to many of the clients Music Therapist work with.
A Music Therapist is a highly skilled musician who has taken
postgraduate training in Music Therapy. There are currently
seven institutes throughout the U.K that offer this training
as a Masters qualification. Once qualified Music Therapists
have to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
The professional organisation is The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT).
Music Therapists are trained to a high standard of musicianship,
particularly through developing their improvisation and clinical
skills. Their training also includes modules in psychology,
child development, theory and history of Music Therapy,
counselling skills, Music Therapy in different clinical settings
and with different pathologies and movement and body awareness.
During training they will have undertaken a variety of clinical
placements in different settings such as schools, psychiatric
units and child development centres to develop their experience
as a Music Therapist.