The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)


The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) defines music therapy as an intervention that is clinical in nature and evidence-based that encapsulates an individual’s goals within a therapeutic setting through credentialed professionals that have participated in an accredited music therapy program that addresses “healthcare and educational goals” in the areas of wellness, stress management, chronic pain, etc., and promotes rehabilitation (AMTA, n.a.). Several studies have shown that music therapy is beneficial in areas concerning behavioral health.  

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A book review by Wylie (1992), asserts that within the scope of music therapy “attention is given to people with mental retardation, mental disorders, physical disabilities, autism, learning disabilities, sensory disorders, and the elderly”. Additionally, a study by Landis-Shack et. al. (2017), emphasizes the benefits of music therapy on individuals with trauma exposure and those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The researchers in the study point out that music therapy assists in “community building, emotion regulation, increased pleasure, and anxiety reduction” therefore allowing for individuals that struggle in the related areas lead healthier adaptive lifestyles when seeking professional intervention(s) (Landis-Shack et. al., 2017). Therefore, it can be concluded that music therapy can benefit everyone including individuals struggling with mood dysregulation as well as those coping with brain injuries and disorders. 


Using music therapy as a tool to help individuals with ASD is a very unique approach to treatment. I never thought music could have such an impact on stimulating the brain’s functioning, but it can. Music therapy can stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for mood and learning(Papagiannopoulou 2015). Using this as a tool to help guide the social learning of individuals with ASD can be very beneficial. For instance, using music in social situations that might cause anxiety can help the individual focus on the music rather than their social anxieties. As a side note, this is a technique I use in my everyday life and I can say with certainty that it does work. I have generalized anxiety so being in large crowds of people or a new environment has always made me anxious. But when I turn on my music all of that anxiety slowly but surely melts away. Over the years music has helped me cope with my social anxiety so I can understand the benefits of music therapy to help individuals with social disabilities. And as we’ve discussed in previous units, music allows people to express themselves. So individuals with ASD  also use music to express themselves and connect with other individuals. Building connections through music allows individuals with ASD to show others that they’re more than just their disability(Bakan 2015). The ethical implications that might need to be considered when using music therapy for  ASD treatment have to do with it being very limiting. I understand how music therapy can help individuals with ASD cope in social situations, But this doesn’t help in situations where music isn’t present. They can always reach for an instrument or listen to music to calm themselves down in stressful situations. So because of this, I believe that relying solely on music therapy would only be beneficial some of the time. I think the best solution to this would be using music therapy in conjunction with another form of therapy so individuals with ASD can get a more well-rounded treatment. 


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