5 Misconceptions of What a Music Therapist Is

Maryville University notes that there has been an increase in the demand for psychology expertise across different fields and businesses, especially with the newly recognized connection between mental health and brain development. Alongside art and dance therapy, music is an example of how artistic interventions promote wellbeing and help clients work through personal issues. That said, the job of a music therapist goes beyond just letting people listen to music. So here are five misconceptions surrounding what a music therapist does:


Anyone can be a musical therapist

Chron notes that the requirements to become a music therapist are rigorous, attesting to the professionalized nature of the job and debunking the misconception music therapy is easy work. Students have to take music, biology, psychology, and physiology courses in order to become music therapists, and also have to complete fieldwork at a hospital or a similar setting. After their training, aspiring music therapists have to then pass a certification exam and, more importantly, continue to pass the exam every five years in order to retain their certification.

Music therapists only play music

We mentioned this in the beginning, but it bears repeating. Music therapist Erin Seibert highlights that a music therapist’s job is, in many ways, similar to any other healthcare professional’s job. They have to complete patient assessments, take stock of the inventory, and document each session. While music therapists do play with instruments, engage in warm-up exercises before each session, and brainstorm new ideas, there’s a lot of administrative work that goes into ensuring that each patient gets the best care possible.

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Music therapists are only effective when one-on-one with clients

When E. Thayer Gaston started developing his music therapy practice, he focused on the idea that music can work either individually or in a group setting, and in various locations. Gaston theorized that music’s nonverbal nature can foster intimacy, making it suitable for those who want to work alone or learn to socialize with others. He saw this as what really made music therapy so potent. To this day, music therapists offer music therapy in both individual and group settings.

Music therapists only work short-term

Music therapists focus on using musical interventions to create long-term results. Professors from the University of Regensburg found that music therapy helps treat depression in clients of all ages. Elderly clients, in particular, showed the biggest improvements. The study covered sessions where participants passively listened to music as well as actively playing music. It highlighted how music therapy can positively impact a subject’s wellbeing.

Music therapists are just like music teachers

Music teachers aim to enhance their client’s musical skills. On the other hand, music therapists use music to develop a client’s cognitive, communication, and/or behavioral skills. This means that music therapists know different strategies to deal with the present situation of the client or patient. Music therapists are also attuned to bodily cues as well as how stressors that can lead to adverse mental responses. Lastly, music therapists work with a much wider diversity of populations.

Thanks to the wellness wave, we are living in a time when people are no longer ignoring mental health. Music therapists continue to be in demand for a wide variety of populations. This field is expected to grow throughout the years; current music therapists are positive about the field’s future as they strive towards their profession being more accepted. While misconceptions about the profession still abound, we hope to continue expanding and educating the general public. What other misconceptions can you think of?

This article was specially written for SamsFans.Org

By: Aria Max

Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

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