A professional music therapist holds a bachelor's degree or higher in music therapy from one of over 70 American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved college and university programs. The curriculum for the bachelor's degree is designed to impart entry level competencies in three main areas: musical foundations, clinical foundations, and music therapy foundations and principles as specified in the AMTA Professional Competencies. 

In addition to the academic coursework, the bachelor's degree requires 1200 hours of clinical training, including a supervised internship. Graduate degrees in Music Therapy focus on advanced clinical practice and research. Upon completion of the bachelor's degree, music therapists are eligible to sit for the national board certification exam to obtain the credential MT-BC (Music Therapist - Board Certified) which is necessary for professional practice. The credential MT-BC is granted by a separate, accredited organization, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), to identify music therapists who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to practice at the current level of the profession. The purpose of board certification in music therapy is to provide an objective national standard that can be used as a measure of professionalism by interested agencies, groups, and individuals.

For more information about music therapy please refer to the national organization, American Music Therapy Association: www.musictherapy.org
​For more information regarding the requirements and details of the Certification Board for Music Therapists please refer to: www.cbmt.org

Click here to learn about group music therapy


Music therapists involve children in a variety of music interventions including singing, playing, listening, and moving to music. They explore which styles of music, techniques,and instruments are most effective or motivating for each individual child in order to address developmental areas of need. Music therapists develop a rapport with children. They observe the child's behavior and interactions and assess communication, cognitive/academic, sensory-motor, and social/emotional skills.

After developing realistic goals and target objectives in each developmental domain , music therapists plan and implement systematic music therapy treatment programs with procedures and techniques designed specifically for the individual child. Music therapists document responses, conduct ongoing evaluations of progress, and often make recommendations to other team members and the family regarding progress and ways to include successful music therapy techniques in other aspects of the child's life.

How does Music Therapy Help Children with Special Needs?

Music therapy offers children with special needs the opportunity to develop a wide range of life skills in the areas of communication, cognition, socialization, motor coordination, and sensory processing due to music's UNIQUE ability to activate and facilitate change in the brain.

During the past two decades, new brain imaging techniques produced two significant findings:

  • The brain areas activated by music are NOT unique to music; the brain areas involved in processing music are ALSO active in processing language, auditory perception, attention, memory, executive control, and motor control. Music efficiently accesses and activates these systems and can drive complex patterns of interaction among them.


    Exposure and experience with making music "actually" changes the brain, creating new and more efficient connections between neurons in the brain and acts as a type of "rewiring" process, bypassing the damaged or underdeveloped areas of the brain to provide new ways to access and acquire important developmental skills.

    ​Both of these findings confirm the POWER of music to stimulate and facilitate the development of children with special needs

WHAT MAKES MUSIC Therapy So Unique?

  • Music activates the ENTIRE brain 
    and NOTHING else does
  • Music therapy actively engages the client in making music which actually CHANGES the brain
  • Music is ENGAGING which increases a client's participation and facilitates positive outcomes​

What is Music Therapy?

"Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program."
-American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)


​Music Therapy in Phoenix Arizona

Individual Music Therapy

Individual music therapy sessions are home-based one-on one music therapy sessions tailored for an individual child by a board-certified music therapist and involve the following:

  • An initial assessment of the child's current functioning in the areas of communication, cognition, socialization, motor coordination, and sensory processing.
  • An individualized treatment plan with specific goals and objectives developed by the therapist to address areas of need.
  • Implementation of music therapy interventions designed to specifically target each goal and objective.
  • Ongoing evaluation and progress documented through quarterly reports.
  • Recommendations to the family regarding progress and ways to include successful music therapy techniques into other aspects the child's life.