What is Music Therapy?

Depending where you live you may or may not have heard of music therapy. As a small profession in Australia (514 registered music therapists and counting) a high percentage of registered music therapists are employed in Victoria with many others scattered across this vast country. The big questions I get asked are what is it, who does it, what happens and who can they work with?

According to the Australian Music Therapy Association:

“Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing.”

What is it?

Music therapy is the process of using music to achieve non-musical goals such as social, emotional, cognitive and physical goals. The music used is usually performed live by competant musicians who have also been trained in a range of therapeutic skills. People always ask me what music I use and generally I use music preferred by the client. Music therapy is distinct from entertainment or education as the purpose is to meet those non-musical health and wellbeing goals hence training in those skills is imperative.

Who does it?

Music therapists are university trained professionals who are registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc (or equivalent in other countries). Music therapy is an evidence based practice and is supported by an extensive body of research across many populations. Training in music therapy gives foundational skills such as grounding in psychological theory, base knowledge of health conditions and implications, music therapy techniques and experience in leading group and individual therapy.

In addition registered music therapist are required to complete professional development to maintain their registration thus maintaining and developing their skills, knowledge and abilities.

What happens?

Music therapy sessions vary depending on the clients however at their disposal music therapists have a range of techniques including but not limited to group singing, song-writing, use of instruments,  movement to music, live music used to prompt discussion, reminiscence or cognitive recall, guided imagery, improvisation, lyric analysis and movement to music.

For many populations the therapeutic relationship is key to music therapy. My clinical experience indicates that music enables clients to feel safe to share their true feelings and emotions (often otherwise unexpressed). This safety and subsequent sharing often enables more traditional “talking” therapies to be utilised.

Who can they work with?

Music therapists can work with anyone who has a need! They work in hospitals, the community, aged care, palliative care, disability, pain management, early childhood and private practice. Best of all a client does not need any musical skills to engage in music therapy.

Please feel free to email me with any further questions as to how music therapy can benefit you or your organisation.




  1. Hi, I am a Drama Therapist working in England. I love the info you have given here! I was also going to write a blog about what dramatherapy is, as everyone ALWAYS asks me and it is so hard to give a quick, short reply!


    1. Hi, thanks for the feedback. It’s so important for our communities to understand that we are clinical professionals whose practice is evidence based. Although it can be fun, important health and wellbeing goals are being focused on. Good luck with the blog:) Send me a message when you start so I can follow too.

      Liked by 1 person

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