Some schools may also offer students the opportunity to participate in bachelor's or master's equivalency programs to shift their educational experience to the Music Therapy field. Students that have already completed either of these degrees in an alternative subject area can participate in these degree programs to become a part of this field.
Through these stated degree programs, students can explore the therapeutic foundation of music in the field of mental health. The Music Therapy Counseling program may quickly be growing into a popular form of individual therapy for clients presenting with a wide range of mental health, behavioral, and social needs.
What is Music Therapy Counseling?
Music Therapy Counseling is an extremely unique form of counseling that involves direct contact with various forms of music. Therapists in this field may work with clients as they create their own music, which can be a form of self-expression that allows them some creative release of stress or anxiety.
Therapy in this field may also include music listening, which is directed by the counselor. This form of therapy can provide clients with feelings of relaxation or emotional release that can assist with coping or healing emotional wounds.
Music Therapy has also be shown beneficial for treatment with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder due to its calming effect on sensory processing. This alternative treatment option can also be beneficial when combined with other calming sensory activities during ASD treatment.
Using instruments, therapist guidance, and dancing are also forms of Music Therapy Counseling that can be utilized in the field. Professionals trained in this type of therapy can provide instruction, assistance, and support to clients as they find self-expression and emotional regulation through the use of music.
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Music Therapy Counseling Degree Levels
Music Therapy degree programs can be found most commonly at the bachelor's and master's level. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) provides prospective students with resources pertaining to open programs with direct specialization, as well as those that provide equivalency programs for existing degree holders.
Bachelor's in Music Therapy Degree
The Bachelor's in Music Therapy program is the minimum degree requirement for board certification as a Music Therapist. This program consists of around 4 years of educational courses designed to help train future counseling professionals.
The bachelor's program in this field can provide students with introductory insight into the therapeutic methods utilized by therapists in this field. Since graduates of this program can qualify to sit for the board examination in Music Therapy, a lot of the content during the learning process involves individual therapies, insight into multiple mental illness, and courses that describe various applications of this service.
Master's in Music Therapy Degrees
Master's in Music Therapy programs can also be popular options for upcoming therapists in this field. At the master's level, students may receive more in-depth training in the various therapeutic techniques available for use in the field, as well as the opportunity to engage in Music Therapy in the field.
One of the benefits of pursuing a Master's in Music Therapy is that programs can be found in-person or online. Students transitioning from other degree specializations can also enrolled in equivalency programs to help salvage their experience gained through their current degree program.
Online Master's of Music Therapy Counseling Programs
Future Music Therapy Counselors looking for convenience with their educational experience may seek out online degree programs as a way to quickly meet their goal. This unique counseling option can provide students with a specialization that is low-populated, which can lead to exciting experiences in this career field.
In the online environment, students may log in to their courses each week through their university's website. Depending on the courses enrolled, students may be responsible for completing assignments, research, or communications with other learners as a method for measuring their attendance.
Entirely Online Programs
100% online Music Therapy Counseling degree programs can be beneficial for current professionals in this field seeking alternative career options, or new learners that prefer the flexibility offered by online programs. As you look for Music Therapy programs in the online setting, you should seek out programs approved by the AMTA for future certification.
Colorado State University currently provides a wealth of opportunities for upcoming Music Therapists looking for certified degree programs. CSU's Music Therapy programs are approved by the AMTA and can lead to board certification after completion.
The online Master's in Music Therapy at this university consists of 2 options for graduate learners - a thesis and non-thesis option. This standard program contains 30-32 credit options depending on thesis completion and can be completed in around 2 years.
If you participate in an online Master's in Music Therapy program, you can expect to engage in courses that are related to music and its effect on emotional regulation and development. The purpose of these programs is to build upon your existing skills for the utilization of therapeutic services.
Sample Music Therapy Related Courses
A large number of students considering Music Therapy Counseling programs may be interested in seeing more about the curriculum and what is involved in the degree process. This unique field can offer an alternative view point of mental health and the effects of music during the therapy process.
Music Therapy History
Once you have enrolled in this degree program, you may begin with a look at the historical foundations of music therapy in the U.S. This course begins with insight into the birth of Music Therapy in the 1700s, as well as spotlights early practitioners that played a role in the official development of the field.
Emotions and Behaviors
Courses related to research into Music Therapy can also be an important part of your curriculum. Like many other counseling disciplines, Music Therapy and its effects on emotions, behaviors, and sensory absorption has been studied to determine the efficiency of different techniques.
As you move through courses related to the research surrounding effective Music Therapy, you can learn more about how different techniques were developed and implemented in the therapeutic setting.
Neuroscience and Music Therapy
One of the most popular courses found within Music Therapy degree programs is Neuroscience and Music Therapy. This course can teach students about the neurological changes that take place through the use of music.
The content of this course may be what promotes the use of music as a therapy tool, since it has been shown to be highly effective in treating a variety of psychological disorders. Engagement in this course can also help you to create your own unique methods of application as your transition into the field.
Path to Working in Music Therapy Counseling
- Bachelor’s: The Bachelor’s in Music Therapy is the minimum degree requirement to pursue board certification in this field. This program focuses on 3 distinct areas of focus, including Musical Foundations, Clinical Foundations, and Music Therapy. Most bachelor’s programs can be completed in around 4 years.
- Master’s: Students that choose to move forward into master’s programs can take advantage of further learning into the therapeutic aspects of Music Therapy. The Master’s in Music Therapy is also the only degree level offered online, making it a convenient option for incoming students. This program typically requires 2 years of educational involvement.
- Internship: The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) outlines an internship requirement for future certification. Your approved bachelor’s or master’s programs may provide unique requirements for your internship requirements, which can be a part of your overall degree program. Completion of this internship can help you qualify for your board examination.
- Examination and Certification: Since Music Therapists typically hold board certification, an examination may be on your list of to-dos for certification. This examination is provided by the CBMT and can result in your final certification. Once certified, candidates hold certification for a period of 5 years before renewal is required. Some states also require board certification for licensure or practice requirements.
- Licensure: There are select states that have certification and licensing requirements for Music Therapists. If you reside in Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, California, Connecticut, Georgia, New York or Wisconsin, your state may require specific steps to be completed prior to practicing Music Therapy in the public domain.
Music Therapy Counseling Important Organizations to Know
Music Therapy Counseling can be an incredible degree program and career option for creative and caring professionals. When you have completed your educational requirements and received certification, you may be looking for foundations of support within the community.
Professional organizations in this field can be helpful guides as you transition from student to practitioner in the social environment. They often provide a wide range of resources including network opportunities, research, and new practices to members.
American Music Therapy Association (AMTA
One of the most important agencies for you to be familiar with during your career is the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). This agency is responsible for approving degree programs that lead to certification and can be an excellent resource for upcoming and current practitioners.
Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT)
The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) is another important agency that you should know inside and out prior to your educational experience. In order to become certified as a Music Therapy Counselor, you must successfully pass an examination administered by this agency.
Your initial certification and re-certifications are handled by the CBMT, making it an important organization to stay current with throughout your career. Your involvement with the agency can help you stay up to date with current changes to the field and the certification process.
Music Therapy Counseling Career Options
An advantage to choosing Music Therapy Counseling is that it can be applied in many different professional settings. Individuals that become certified in this field can provide services to clients presenting with diverse emotional, physical, and behavioral needs.
When you first enter the field, you may find it beneficial to pursue careers in general mental health organizations. This setting can provide you with great introductory experience around other certified practitioners in mental health.
Local mental health organizations or specialty counseling clinics typically employ counseling professionals from a wide range of concentrations, which is why a lot of new therapists tend to take on careers in this area.
Music Therapists can also partner with Board Certified Behavior Analysts during the care and treatment of clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Music Therapy has been shown effective as a tool for working through sensory dysfunction in children with ASD.
Alternative career options for Music Therapists can be found in rehabilitation centers, cancer treatment facilities, and even within pain management clinics. Each of these career settings can allow you to work with clients that are in high need of therapeutic services for their vast diagnoses.