What does it mean to be a board certified music therapist?

by Grace Clements

Hello Easter Seals Family! I thought I’d share some information about becoming a board certified music therapist.

The first step in becoming a music therapist is to attend an AMTA (american music therapy association) approved school. During a students music therapy education, the student acquires 200 fieldwork hours and 1000 hours of an internship. The program is organized so that the future music therapist gets experience in many different populations. I had fieldwork at HMS school for children with cerebral palsy, Caring Heart Rehabilitation, Germantown Recovery community, and Hear Our Voices (a grant funded songwriting program for at risk youth) and I did my internship at Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment.

A strong education in music is also needed to become a music therapist. Music therapists are trained to work in a variety ways, improvising music, writing music, re creating pre-composed music, and many variations of this. A strong understanding of psychology and music is important, and learning how these two components work together.

First and foremost the person must be interested in working with people, and must be able to relate well to others. A music therapist must be sensitive to their surroundings, able to take in everything that is happening, while still being able to stay present in leading the music.

After completing the 1000 hour internship the student is eligible to take the board certification test, which includes questions about the implementation and implications of music therapy. Once the music therapist passes the exam, they are nationally certified to practice music therapy. the MT-BC program of the certification board for music therapists is fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) The test is reviewed and updated to keep up the advances in the field of music therapy. To maintain the MT-BC, the music therapist is required to either re take the exam every 5 years, or participate in trainings called CMTEs. requiring the therapist to re-certify helps the therapist stay up to date with current practices.

Why is it important to be board certified?

It is important for there to be a national standard for music therapists, so that we can be represented well as a field. Having a board certification helps our field become more widely recognized to companies and possible employers. A certification makes services more available to clients because other therapists and doctors can refer their clients to the music therapist. The certification allows music therapy to be covered in school-based services or by insurance.

I hope this has been informative! If you have any questions about music therapy feel free to contact me, gclements@easterseals-sepa.org.

Until next time,

Grace Clements, MT-BC
Full time Music Therapist at Easter Seals SEPA

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