While the therapeutic power of music is well known, many people are unaware that it takes a properly trained and certified music therapist to maximize its therapeutic benefits on a client. A common image that comes to mind when music therapy is mentioned is that of an individual bringing a guitar into a hospital or long-term care facility and performing popular songs for groups of client. While this may be how it appears on the surface, there is actually a lot more work that goes on before, during and after a session. It is more than just learning and performing fun songs! Years of musical and psychological training are required to receive the MTA credential.
There were three main steps that I needed to follow in order to become a certified music therapist.
Acquired a post-secondary degree in music therapy. I earned my undergraduate degree in music therapy (BMT) from Wilfrid Laurier University in June 2014. The BMT program combines core music subjects with other applicable skills such as composition and improvisation. Psychology is also a major component of the degree, and the completion of courses on abnormal, clinical, developmental, and musical psychology are required as part of the degree. I also earned a Master of Music Therapy degree (MMT) from Wilfrid Laurier University in August 2018.
Completed a 1000-hour clinical internship. Students who have completed their BMT degree need to complete their internship at a facility approved by the Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT). The 1000-hour internship includes primarily direct service work, as well as administrative work and continuing education.
I completed my internship at Zareinu Educational Centres of Metropolitan Toronto (now called Kayla’s Children Centre or KCC) in June 2015. KCC is an Orthodox Jewish private school for children and infants with special needs. I worked with children between the ages of two and fifteen with a wide variety of diagnoses.
Passed the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) exam. The CBMT is an American organization and was initially created as part of the certification process for American music therapists, but has since been adopted as the certification exam in Canada. The exam contains questions about music theory, music therapy fundamentals, ethical questions, and clinical scenarios. I passed the exam in October 2015.
In summary, countless hours of work and studying are required to become a certified music therapist. This training is essential to making sure that music therapists have a full understanding of clinical practices, professional ethics, and diagnostic criteria. This also ensures that clients will receive appropriate and legitimate therapeutic benefits. It is amazing what can be achieved through music therapy and the possibilities are limitless.