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Music Therapy: Home

A piano keyboard

Creative Commons. Source: Wikimedia


This Gumberg Library research guide is designed to provide resources and support research within the established health care profession of music therapy. Use the top navigation tabs to explore research methods for finding scholarly articles in journals and databases, how to search for books and selected titles, and other resources for keeping up to date on music therapy research. 

Looking for a brief overview of the music therapy profession? Scroll through this page or click on a question below to get started: 


What Is Music Therapy?                                                 Who Can Benefit From Music Therapy?

Who Are Music Therapists?                                            What Are Some Common Misconceptions?     

What Are Some Examples of Music Therapy?                    Where Can I Learn More?

What Is Music Therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as "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." 

This established health profession utilizes music within a therapeutic relationship to address the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social needs of individuals. Personalized treatments can include singing, creating, moving to, and/or listening to music. 

Who Are Music Therapists? 

A credentialed music therapist must:

Music therapists work in a wide variety of settings including (but not limited to) rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, day care treatment centers, hospice programs, correctional facilities, schools, community mental health centers, and private practice. 

What Are Some Examples of Music Therapy?

The following examples showcase the work of music therapists: 

  • Work with older adults to lessen the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Work with hospitalized patients to reduce acute or chronic pain
  • Work with children who have autism to improve communication capabilities
  • Work with premature infants to improve sleep patterns and increase weight gain
  • Work with people who have Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function
  • Work with children and adults to reduce asthma episodes

Who Can Benefit From Music Therapy?

Many different populations with a variety of symptoms can benefit from music therapy, including: 

  • Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly
  • Patients with developmental and learning disabilities
  • Patients with mental health needs including depression and anxiety 
  • Patients suffering from addiction and substance abuse 
  • Patients recovering from brain injuries or physical trauma 

What Are Some Common Misconceptions? 

  • While noteworthy, examples such as a piano player in the lobby of a hospital or nurses playing background music for patients are not classified as clinical music therapy. 
  • There is not one style or genre of music that is best for a certain set of people or symptom. Music therapy is a personalized experience in which a music therapist will plan a session based on a patient's preferences, needs, and goals. 
  • Prior musical training is not required for a patient to benefit from music therapy.

Where Can I Learn More?

Looking for more information? The American Music Therapy Association provides an in-depth look at music therapy including music therapy practice around the world, the history of the profession, and implementing music therapy with specific populations. 

Interested in a music therapy career? Duquesne University offers an AMTA accredited program awarding the Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy degree. Check out their website to explore program goals and course offerings.