What Training Do Music Therapists Have?
Becoming a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) is more than liking people, loving music, and wanting to make them feel better. It’s a regulated profession with high standards and a rigorous training program.
The credential Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC), is granted by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT, cbmt.org) to identify music therapists who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to practice at the current level of the profession.
Board Certified Music Therapists must:
- Complete at least an undergraduate degree or its equivalence in music therapy from an approved program
- Complete an internship of at least 1040 hours
- Pass the Board Certification exam
- Comply with continuing education requirements (100 credits every 5 years)
When I first started my music therapy degree program at Utah State University I was crazy excited. I remember walking to class on my first day and feeling nervous, thrilled, and overwhelmed at the thought of all that I was about to learn.
That first day in class I was immediately overwhelmed with information. The next 4 years only got harder.
I spent every semester digging in deep with anywhere from 5-9 classes and 18 credits ranging from psychology, statistics, music theory, advanced piano lessons, speech and language, special education, and music therapy core classes that taught me how to use music in clinical settings.
It was overwhelming and intense.
75% of my class dropped out because it was much harder than they anticipated. But I pushed through because I was 100% sure that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
Four years later, I started my 6 month 1,040 hour clinical internship feeling so ready to apply all of my knowledge.
Except I soon realized that 50% of my schooling happened in the first 4 years, and the next 50% would happen during the internship. It was intense.
I made it through and am grateful for it, but wow was it an exhausting learning experience!
By the time my internship ended and I was ready to sit for my board exam, I felt like I had crammed 10 years worth of knowledge into 4.5 years. I passed my exam, earned my MT-BC credential, and started my career as a Board Certified Music Therapist.
As I’ve worked in the field I’ve discovered areas that are of particular interest to me that were not covered in depth during my schooling, and I have focused my continuing education requirements on those particular areas, which keep me active, fresh, and well informed as a clinician.
The field of music therapy is vast, vibrant, rigorous, and ever growing.
We are regulated in training requirements and scope of practice by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (cbmt.org), and our code of ethics and continued research efforts are spearheaded by the American Music Therapy Association, or AMTA (music therapy.org).
So unlike some have come to believe, music therapists are not simply kind musicians who like playing music for people.
Rather, we are trained clinicians who understand how to use music to bring about real change.
And we are trained in how to do just that.