What Is Music Therapy


Definitions of Music Therapy


We have seen tremendous growth in research of music and the brain in the last decade, Music activates many different parts of the brain, and music also creates safe environment for expression and creativity as a non-verbal communication tool.


What is music therapy?


Music therapy is a clinical service provided by a trained and educated music therapist and that supports client(s) achieving their goals within a therapeutic relationship by using music and its elements as tools.


For instance, a doctor determines medication or/and procedures depends on a patient’s symptoms.  A licensed counselor supports individual’s psychological health by using various approaches while building rapport and maintaining healthy client-therapist relationship. In a similar way, the music therapist chooses music or/and musical elements and how she/he uses them based on client’s needs and treatment goals.


There are many approaches in music therapy.  For example, there is an approach that uses music for behavior modification, an approach that uses music to promote expression and creativity, an approach that uses music to evoke emotions and access the unconscious, and an approach that uses musical elements to restore functional abilities that damaged by neurological disorders.


Depends on training and educations each music therapist received as well as his/her clinical experiences and philosophy, an approach the music therapist chooses may vary. It is difficult to prove which approach is the best or the most effective, however we think as Kakehashi “Music Therapy Connection Group, that it is important for the therapist to be flexible and be open to all of approaches if they are appropriate for his/her clients.


Every organizations, companies, individuals may have similar but not the same definitions of music therapy.  We’re often asked this question, “what is music therapy?”. We think that it is important for all music therapists to feel comfortable answering this question (it’s not easy question!) and have their own philosophy of music therapy.


At first, it is also helpful to read and understand definitions of music therapy defined by major (leading?)organizations. We would like to introduce definitions by World Federation of Music Therapy and American Music Therapy Association as follows:



Music therapy is 

the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing. Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts. 

(Source: WFMT, 2011)



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.

(Source: AMTA, 2011)



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