Music Therapy

    If you are wondering how to become a music therapist, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of alternative therapy, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Music therapy work involves using music and sound to help improve people’s emotional wellbeing, relieve stress and improve confidence.

    As a music therapist, you would not teach music, but would encourage clients to try different instruments and use their voices to explore sound and communicate through music, to help them:

    express themselves
    develop insight and create ways of relating to other people
    become aware of their feelings
    interact with other people more confidently
    bring about positive changes in their lives.
    Therapy sessions could be in a group or on a one to one basis. Both you and your clients would take an active part in sessions, by playing, singing, listening and improvising together.

    Your clients could include children or adults with disabilities, emotional or behavioural problems, speech and language difficulties, mental illness or recovering from addictions.

    You would work closely with other health care professionals such as nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of music therapists include:

    excellent communication skills, with the ability to relate to people from all backgrounds
    a high level of musical ability and knowledge of different styles of music
    a genuine desire to help people
    a non-judgemental attitude
    creativity, intuition and imagination
    a flexible and adaptable approach
    patience and commitment
    emotional strength and the ability to cope with challenging situations
    respect for confidentiality
    an interest in psychology.

    How to become a music therapist
    To work as a state-registered music therapist, you need to complete a postgraduate course accredited by the Association of Professional Music Therapists (APMT) and recognised by the Health Professions Council (HPC). See the APMT and HPC websites for details of approved courses.

    To get onto a postgraduate diploma or Masters in Music Therapy, you will usually need to have completed a three-year diploma or graduateship from a college of music, or a degree in music from a university.

    You may also be accepted on to an accredited postgraduate course with a degree such as education or psychology, as long as you have a high standard of musical ability. Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

    Many institutions offering postgraduate music therapy courses will also expect you to have paid or voluntary work experience with children and/or people with disabilities.

    Many people go into music therapy following a career as a professional musician, or after working in an area such as teaching, community or social work.

    Training and Development
    Music therapy courses approved by the APMT and HPC are offered by several institutions.

    Your postgraduate or Masters course will usually include areas such as psychology, early infant development, psychodynamics, psychiatry, and the theory of music therapy. You will develop clinical music skills and attend work placements in hospitals, schools and other centres in the community, working with adults and children.

    As a practising music therapist you will receive regular supervision from an experienced therapist who is trained as a supervisor. You can also attend short courses or workshops to continue your professional development.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    A newly qualified music therapist can earn around £23,000 a year.
    With experience, this can rise to around £42,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    You will find most opportunities in the NHS and with local authority social services and education departments. You could also find work with voluntary organisations, the Prison Service, or in private practice. Work opportunities will often depend on organisations gaining funding for particular projects.

    With experience, you may go on to lead a team of therapists or manage a unit.

    Useful therapies resources:
    Association of Professional Music Therapists (APMT)
    61 Church Hill Road
    East Barnet
    EN4 8SY
    Tel: 020 8440 4153

    Recent Articles


    Related Stories

    Stay on op - Ge the daily news in your inbox