What is Music Therapy and Why Does it Matter?


stock-photo-16845502-musical-therapyThe American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) 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.” Sounds complicated…well, it’s not! The AMTA goes on to say that Music Therapy can accomplish the following goals:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Alleviate Pain
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation

Music Therapy can be an integral element in accomplishing these things for:

  • Military populations and others suffering from PTSD and physical injuries
  • Children and Adults with:
    • Autism
    • Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Confinement in correctional facilities
    • Responses to crisis and trauma
    • Pain—Both Physical and Mental
    • Sensory Disorders

Music Therapy treatment is gaining acceptance in the U.S. and around the world. But, why does it work and why does it matter? Spokane’s The Arc suggests that working with music is useful in treating ASD and ADHD (autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) by increasing brain fiber connections. A study was recently conducted in Mexico to see what effect music has on the brain of children. Pilar Dies-Suarez, M.D., a chief radiologist in Mexico City and the lead author of the study, says: “Experiencing music at an early age can contribute to better brain development, optimizing the creation and establishment or neural networks, and stimulating the existing brain tracts.”

This research shows once again how Music Therapy can improve brain development in a variety of people. Dr. Dies-Suarez’s study shows how receiving musical instruction tells the brain to complete tasks that involve hearing, motor, cognitive, emotional, and social skills. ALL these areas of the brain become activated and connections between the two hemispheres of the brain occur.

In other words, and as you’ve heard me say before…Music making in the context of a therapeutic relationship is the ONLY human endeavor that lights up the ENTIRE brain! It can create changes in the brain that can address multiple developmental and physical issues simultaneously. It arouses, activates, and encourages motivation for participation in recovery.

Kim McMillin

RN, MA, MT-BC, RPT, LMHC, LMFT (CO)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist
I am passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevent them from embracing the Light of Goodness inside. Each of us comes into this world as a magnificent Sun. What often trips us up is that we learn to identify with the clouds -- ugly things...

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1315 N. Napa
Spokane, WA 99202

Music therapy for autism and developmental disabilities serving the Spokane, WA area.
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Whether you are an advocate for someone with developmental disabilities, you are stuck in your life and need a new approach to personal growth, or you want to heal from health issues and enhance your well-being, the resources on this website can help.  Check out our videos, get our newsletter, and then call our office at 509-979-4357 to discuss your unique situation.
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