Music Therapy is the art and science of using music to promote health. It is the unique relationship that we create with our clients and they with each other and so what music therapy is and what it becomes is constantly evolving depending on the person, the situation, and the moment.”

~ Sheila Lee

Canadian Association of Music Therapists / Association canadienne des musicothérapeutes (June 2016)

Music therapy is a discipline in which credentialed professionals (MTA*) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being. Music therapists use music safely and ethically to address human needs within cognitive, communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.

*Music Therapist Accredited/Musicothérapeute accrédité

Who can benefit from Music Therapy?

Individuals of all ages and abilities can benefit from Music Therapy. Some goal areas include but are not limited to:

  • Emotional
  • Psychosocial
  • Mental Health
  • Cognition (e.g. Attention, Memory, Processing)
  • Motor Skills (Fine motor and Gross motor)
  • Socialization (e.g. Turn taking, Awareness of Others, Sharing)
  • Speech / Communication / Language
  • Self-Expression (Non-verbal and Verbal)
  • Spiritual Well-being

Examples of areas that music therapy can benefit:

  • Acquired Brain Injury
  • AIDS
  • Autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disabilities
  • Corrections and Forensic
  • Critical Care
  • Deaf / Hard of Hearing / Hearing Impairments
  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Down Syndrome
  • Emotional Traumas
  • Geriatric Care
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Health
  • Neonatal Care
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Obstetrics
  • Oncology
  • Pain Control
  • Physical Disabilities
  • Speech and Language Impairments
  • Substance Abuse
  • Survivors of Trauma / Abuse
  • Visual Impairments
  • Youth At-Risk

Education and Training:

  • Certified music therapists must have completed a Bachelor’s Degree or a Graduate Certificate in music therapy and a 1000-hour supervised clinical internship. Some music therapists may have also completed a Master’s or PhD degree
  • University coursework in research, music, psychology, counselling, and biology
  • Certification either through passing the Certification Board of Music Therapists Exam or completing the Canadian Association for Music Therapy accreditation process
  • Continuing Education: Canadian certified music therapists must maintain their MTA credential through professional development opportunities

Intervention techniques can include but are not limited to:

  • Singing
  • Playing instruments
  • Rhythmic based activities
  • Improvising
  • Composing/Songwriting
  • Recording
  • Imagery
  • Listening
  • Use of other expressive arts such as visual art, drama, movement, and play
  • Use of supportive tools and props such as picture symbols


“Music is the place we meet,” Ruth Roberts, MMT, MTA, Music Therapist