Music Therapy FAQs


While everyone responds to music, the specific applications of music therapy often prompt questions from individuals, healthcare professions, and curious musicians. Here we provide an overview of the questions we often hear.


Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of prescribed music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. In other words, music therapy uses evidence-based approaches to help people reach a wide range of non-musical goals.

Research demonstrates that music therapy, integrated into a care plan, may improve health outcomes and quality of life. Through developing individual potential and improving intrapersonal and/or interpersonal integration, music therapy addresses a person’s cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs. Please note that music therapy does not claim to cure or prolong life in the medical sense.

The human ability and need to respond to music is innate, is not dependent on musical ability or training, and usually remains unimpaired by mental and physical illnesses. Music has a unique power among the therapeutic media to engage and sustain the attention of patients and, in the hands of a certified and trained therapist, accomplish a variety of therapeutic goals and objectives.

MusicWorx clients can be individuals, agencies, or corporations. Our music therapy clients may be recovering from or learning to cope with illness, injury, or disability. Our wellness clients may be in good general health but want to learn techniques to optimize and maintain their mental and physical health. We work with corporate clients to help develop and enhance communication, leadership, and stress-management skills.

MusicWorx settings can include:

  • Community – corporations, senior centers, schools, daycare facilities, parent/child groups, and bereavement groups
  • Medical – hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, psychiatric facilities, hospice, and patients’ homes
  • Music Wellness Center
  • Rehabilitation – medical rehabilitation facilities, substance abuse treatment facilities, eating disorder treatment facilities, halfway houses, group homes, outpatient clinics, and correctional facilities
  • Wellness – health spas, yoga studios, and wellness centers

Healthy people benefit from music therapy through:

  • Developing a peer support network
  • Learning relaxation techniques
  • Maintenance of vital physical exercise
  • Socialization and fun recreation
  • Stress reduction through active music making, such as drumming
  • Stress reduction through passive listening

As an increasingly supported field of treatment, insurance companies are recognizing the advantages of including music therapy as a covered benefit. Music therapy is similar to other health professions like occupational and physical therapy in that patients must be individually assessed and are then pre-approved for coverage or reimbursement when music therapy is deemed medically necessary to reach the treatment goals of the individual patient. Reimbursement for services is available in a large variety of health care settings with patients with varying diagnoses. Check with your health insurance provider and we will gladly help with the assessments and required documentation.

The use of music as a healing influence to affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. However, the 20th-century discipline began during World War I, when both amateur and professional musicians of all types visited veterans’ hospitals to perform for the thousands suffering physical and emotional war traumas. Hospitals soon realized that musicians required training prior to entering medical facilities, leading Michigan State University to create the first music therapy degree program in the world in 1944.

In 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) chartered its membership. In 1971, the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) developed. And in 1998, the two groups joined forces to form the American Music Therapy Association Inc. (AMTA), now representing more than 7,000 music therapists, corporate members, and related associations worldwide.

In 1985, the World Federation of Music Therapy Inc. (WFMT) formed to improve the health and well-being of individuals and populations worldwide through music interventions, promote and develop music therapy as an art and science, and support the global development of clinical practice, education, and research to demonstrate its impact on and contribution to society.

A substantial body of literature supports the effectiveness of music therapy.  AMTA has promoted a vast amount of research to explore and document the benefits of music as therapy through publication of the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives, among others.

Click here to be redirected to AMTA’s research.


Music therapists use vocal and instrumental music strategies and protocols for individual and group therapeutic sessions to help clients reach their non-musical goals.

Initial Assessment

Assess cognitive skills, communication abilities, emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, and each client’s strengths to determine the necessity of music therapy services and to incorporate into their treatment plan.

Treatment Plan

Design music therapy sessions for individual clients and groups based on their individual needs using a wide variety of approaches.

Ongoing Support

Participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing assessment and evaluation, and follow up to ensure the client and their support team continue to progress toward their therapeutic goals.

Depending on the individual or group, music therapy sessions generally range between 15-60 minutes.

Depending on the individual’s needs, music therapists may only perform a handful of sessions with a client, such as in hospital settings. Music therapists may only meet with a client once, such as providing support for patients who are passing away and their families. Clients with chronic, prolonged, or reoccurring diagnoses may see a therapist for generally up to two years, at which point objectives should have achieved and wellness strategies may take the place of music therapy. However, every client-therapist relationship is unique and no generalization will appropriately include treatment for all clients.

Music therapists serve a wide variety of populations with diverse needs making it hard to outline a “typical” music therapy session. Music therapists draw from an extensive array of music exercises, strategies and interventions in order to design sessions and select music based upon the individual patient’s treatment plan.

The most common music therapy interventions include the following:
  • Feeling vibrotactile sensations
  • Guided imagery, music, and relaxation exercises
  • Learning through music
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Singing, chanting, and toning combinations
  • Songwriting and/or improvisation for original pieces of music
  • Lyric analysis and discussion
  • Active and passive listening to live or recorded music
  • Interactive music making (instruments)
  • Music and movement
  • Music performance
  • Music improvisation
  • Participation with family and/or visitors to share meaningful moments

In a medical setting, a music therapist adapts to the needs of patients seen in a series of visits. Accompanied by a cart equipped with musical instruments, song books, and recorded music, a therapist travels from room to room, conducting sessions varying from 15 to 60 minutes in length. After assessment and brief discussion of a patient’s needs and preferences, intervention begins. A session may consist of only the therapist providing music or the therapist and patient making music together.

This may include, but is not limited to, the following:
  • Breathing to a rhythm to relax and sedate
  • Composing songs to express emotion
  • Learning to play an instrument to improve motor skills
  • Restoring a natural gait and/or movement skills using neurologic music therapy protocols

Every music therapist specializes in at least one instrument and is able to play a minimum of guitar, keyboard/piano, percussion, and voice (for chanting, singing, and toning). Music therapists are trained to make necessary adaptations to make instrument play accessible for all regardless of physical, cognitive, or musical abilities. To check out some of the instruments we use, visit our store.

The ability to respond to music is completely natural within every person. And since music therapy addresses non-musical goals, patients need no prior music training or advanced skill to participate in music therapy sessions.

Experience What
We Do

The best way to understand what we do is to participate in a session. We invite you to see our current events available at the Music Wellness Center, or please call us at 858-457-2201 to schedule a consultation.



CEO / Founder
P: 858.457.2201

11300 Sorrento Valley Rd., Ste. 104,
San Diego, CA 92121