The state of Pennsylvania has approximately 400 board-certified music therapists, who serve about 41,000 clients.
Music therapists have at least a bachelor’s degree with extensive coursework in both music and psychology. They work in medical facilities, schools and in private practice. Music therapists may co-treat with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists or work on their own.
Dr. Nicole Hahna, assistant professor at Slippery Rock, said music therapy can be used with diagnoses such as Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, speech and language problems, and motor difficulties. The therapist assesses the patient’s needs and musical preferences before developing a treatment plan.
“We might use the guitar, play one of their preferred songs and slowly increase the tempo of that song, which is going to slowly increase their gait, or their walking, so without us asking them to walk faster," Hahna said. "We’re able to help motivate them to do so.”
Hahna said music therapy is not for everyone but is very helpful to some patients.