Below is a list of commonly asked questions. Click on any question for detailed information about a particular topic.

+ What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a goal-oriented process using music to address non-musical needs and improve functioning in such areas as cognition, motor skills, communication, and mental and emotional health. Essentially, music therapists will start by assessing a patient. Through the assessment process, the music therapist determines what the patient’s needs or areas of needed improvement are as well as what the patient CAN do. The music therapist then designs musical activities to achieve those non-musical goals through music.

+ Why Does Music Therapy Work?

Music therapy works essentially because of the way music stimulates the entire brain. In additional to this stimulation, music also touches people emotionally. Almost everyone enjoys music, making it an ideal approach. The more research is done, the more it supports the use of music to treat non-musical problems.

+ What Type of Goals Do You Address?

Music therapists use a wide variety of music based activities to achieve a wide range of goals and objectives based on each individual's needs. Goal areas include things such as improving communication skills (expressive and receptive), improving motor function and coordination (both fine and gross motor skills), developing and improving social skills, modifying behavior and addressing emotional needs and self-expression.

+ What Kind of Patients and Populations is Music Therapy Geared Towards?

The amazing thing about music is that it is so universal, people of all ages and abilities love it and respond to it. Music therapy is used with a variety of populations including children with developmental disabilities (autism, cerebral palsy, intellectually disabled, etc.), individuals with psychiatric disorders, adults with Parkinson's disease, geriatrics with dementia, premature infants...the list goes on and on. Furthermore, the more studies completed on music therapy, the more research supports its use in a variety of ways. For example, music is clinically proven to reduce your brain's perception of pain and it is proven to reduce blood pressure. Music has been found to be extremely effective in memory recall for dementia patients, can increase reality-orientation in severe psychiatric patients and can be used to regulate heart and respiratory rates.

Therefore music therapists work in a wide variety of settings. Music therapists can be found working in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, State Schools, hospices, private practice or in music therapy centers.

+ How does this help both physically and emotionally?

Music stimulates the entire brain in a way that nothing else can. When working with a patient with physical impairment, the rhythm and steady beat of music helps them to complete a motion in a time-ordered manner. This is important because when a patient is able to make a movement occur at a steady rate and evenly, they are usually able to also be more successful in completing the movement. The music also provides motivation for more repetitions. Everyone experiences emotions elicited by music, and music can be a powerful way to explore emotions. Music also serves as a non-threatening way to explore and express emotions and difficult feelings.

+ What does the Center for Music Therapy do?

At the Center for Music Therapy facility here in Austin, we have three distinct treatment programs.

Sync'd Gym and Rehab which specializes in the intensive treatment of adults with a movement disorder such as Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington's Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke or Parkinson's Disease. We offer physical therapy and music therapy through our: a. Circuit class using whole body movement b. Treadmill training program utilizing state of the art technology and synchronized music to improve your walking c. Amp'd class to increase your voice, cognitive and upper extremety strength d. Tun'd to support and strengthen the emotional aspects of living with a physical disability.

This innovative program takes baseline measures to clearing establish whether you this program is appropriate for you and to understand such things as how you are moving and currently functioning. We retake baseline measures after your semester is completed. We then discuss with you what worked, or did not work, to establish how you achieved your progress and how you are to maintain these gains throughout the year. You recheck in on average one time a year to see if you are maintaining your functioning. If you need ongoing intensive work due to having a more aggressive disease trajectory we have classes offered 4 semesters throughout the year with price points which are less than most of your insurance co payments and your Medicare doughnut hole requirement to keep yourself working towards the goals your have set to maintain for your life's balance. To learn more about our Sync'd program please go the the Sync'd link at the top of our website.

Individual Music Therapy Treatment. In our traditional music therapy services we see a lot of children and adults with developmental disabilities, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimers and head injuries. Many of the patients we see with developmental disabilities have diagnoses of sensory processing disorder, autism, cerebral palsy or cognitive impairments. In individual work we often focus on addressing goals related to communication and motor skills. Depending on your individual skills levels, we address skills such as improving eye contact and/or communicating preferences. Many clients have limited verbal abilities and are working on using signs, gestures or limited verbal responses to express wants and needs during the session. Being able to sustain attention to a specific task for a set duration of time is also a significant goal of to improve cognitive processing. Patients are encouraged to choose between musical activities and to remain engaged in a musical experience for a set duration. Because music is such an enjoyable experience, clients are motivated to participate and stretch their usual ability to focus on one specific task. When holding attention is difficult; music provides a much needed connection and stimulation. Additionally, participating in a music making experience fosters empathy and relationship building skills, the development of fine and gross motor skills, whether it is using fingers to manipulate small percussion instruments or moving the entire body with the rhythm of the music. As clients progress, or for those already at higher abilities, taking a leadership role in the music making can help build skills in self-direction, social interaction, and developing verbal communication skills. Clients participate in a variety of activities such as moving to music, playing small percussion instruments, drumming, playing the piano, and singing or imitating vocalizations in the context of a song depending on a person's abilities.

Health for a Song! $65.00 per month membership fee. Creates a financially sustainable access to therapy and support. We have two seperate tracks of support. a. Steppin Out! Therapist supervised exercise classes for person's with movement related health issues. Physical Therapy classes for those who can stand and move independently and Music Therapy classes for seated exercise for those with balance and/or cognitive issues. Drumming, Tai Chi, Singing and other beneficial classes throughout the week. b. Club BT-The "Be There!" experience. It is a social club for adults who have grown up with a development delay to have healthy, active, adult social lives and relationships by getting together with old and new friends weekly. It's "Cheers" where everybody knows your name and is always glad you came. The Club holds weekly Thursday Karaoke nights,Friday Dance Nights. The Thursday early evening performance class meets to work on plays, building music or acting/stage performance skills, production skills (i.e. props, lighting, directing, etc.) The Club holds monthly events such a New Year's Party, Valentine's Formal, Cinco DeMayo, Beach Party!, an unofficial SXSW Live concert and more! Members birthday's are celebrated the last Friday of every month with cake and 1 gift per member. Members are allowed to bring family and friends to their birthday night. For more information on our Health for a Song programs find us on Facebook at Steppin Out! OR Club BT!

+ Do you have to be musical to benefit from Music Therapy?

No! ...and yes, let me explain. All humans are intrinsically musical. So you have to be human to benefit from music therapy. If you are a person who feels like you can’t carry a tune in a bucket or keep the beat to save your life, you can still benefit. Don’t allow your “feelings” of inadequacy in music ability keep you from attempting music based therapy. You can benefit by allowing a music therapist to apply their skills and trusting your body’s natural response to music. Again, all of us are naturally born musical, so all can benefit from music therapy.

+ Is Music Therapy reimbursable through my insurance?

Yes, in most cases but it will depend on what type of insurance you have and your policy. The Center for Music Therapy, Inc. provides you with the documentation you need for reimbursement for your claim; however, the patient is responsible for filing and processing their own claims with their insurance companies. The Center for Music Therapy, Inc. is no longer a provider on any HMO networks. Most of our patients who receive insurance reimbursement have a PPO and we are an out of network provider. You will need to bring a doctor’s order requesting music therapy evaluation and treatment with the patient’s diagnosis code specified in the order.

+ What provider networks are you on?

  • We currently are on the Austin Travis County Mental Health and Mental Retardation (ATCMHMR) network. However, we are only providing services for their Developmentally Disabled (DD) section of services as part of the In Home and Family Support Program.
  • We are providers under the CLASS Medicaid Waiver Program. We provide services for A Touch of Class and Disability Services of the Southwest participants for those participants who will come to sessions at our facility.
  • We also are providers with IBM Special Services for Children.
  • WE DO NOT TAKE MEDICAID OR MEDICARE. You must have a Medicare Supplemental Insurance and have used all of your Medicare rehab benefits for the year before successfully being able to file a claim for your music therapy treatment through your Medicare supplemental insurance.

+ Must we go to the Center for treatment?

Yes, all patients must come to The Center for Music Therapy, Inc. for treatment. Under rare cases, where the patient’s music therapy is deemed highly medically necessary by the CFMT, Inc. and the patients attending physician, we will travel to the hospital, treatment facility or home. In these cases, travel expenses, including mileage, will be charged to the patient.

+ What are other sources to seek funding support?

You may seek funding through voucher programs at Austin Travis County Mental Health and Mental Retardation (ATCMHMR) and check with The ARC of Austin for financial assistance for summer programs. There are some funding options through schools for summer services which are therapeutic in nature but must be recommended and processed through special education services. Also we provide free weekly exercise and singing programs.

+ Do I need an order from my doctor?

Yes. The order must provide the patient’s correct diagnosis code as well as the doctor’s prescription for music therapy assessment and treatment.

+ What is the cost?

At the Center for Music Therapy, Inc., we charge a standard rate for individual music therapy treatment sessions and have varying fees for workshops, classes and other services provided at The Center. See fees and rate page. Most people can get the Music Therapy treatment sessions reimbursed by insurance companies. However, you will not be able to get the music therapy assessment reimbursed by an insurance company. It is necessary to have a thorough music therapy assessment completed and treatment plan formulated before submitting your claim to insurance for successful payment of treatment sessions.

+ How do I start Music Therapy?

Call the Center for Music Therapy, Inc. at (512) 472-5016. Give us your contact information and reason why you are considering Music Therapy. We will setup a free screening with you. The screening will last from 15-30 minutes and you get to come to The Center for Music Therapy, Inc. and meet the staff and tour the facility. We will spend time together getting to know each other while playing on the instruments and talking further about Music Therapy options for you or your family. The screening is a chance to see if Music therapy is right for you.

+ What is a usual Music Therapy session like?

This really depends on the patient. Music therapists treat a wide variety of patients with a wide range of needs, strengths, abilities and goal areas. Broad goal areas include communication, motor function, social/emotional and behavioral. Patients are assessed to determine what goals and objectives will be addressed in sessions, and each session is tailored to each individual patient. Music therapists treat many populations so sessions can vary widely. Activities in a music therapy session can include drumming, analyzing the lyrics of a song, completing movement to music exercises targeting specific motor function goals, songwriting, improvising on a variety of instruments, or even learning some basics of an instrument such as guitar or piano.

FAQs for a Music Therapy Career

+ How does one become a Music Therapist?

One must complete a four year music therapy degree program approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Many colleges and universities offer AMTA-approved music therapy programs and a complete list can be found on AMTA’s website. After completing four years of college, one must then complete a 6-9 month AMTA approved internship. Internship sites can be found all over the United States and also include work with a wide variety of populations in a variety of settings. After completing the internship, one must take (and pass) the board examination to become a Music Therapist, Board Certified. The credential is designated as MT-BC. Music therapists must renew their certification every 5 years.

+ How do I find a music therapist or program to study music therapy?

Both of these questions can be answered at the AMTA website.

To find a Music Therapist in your area, simply email AMTA and give them the 5 digit zip code in your area. From their database, they will send back to you a listing of all music therapists in your area. To find a Music Therapy degree program email and request a listing of all the universities in the United States which offer an accredited degree program in Music Therapy. AMTA will send you a complete listing of all the undergraduate and graduate programs.

+ How do I know this is the right thing?

Spend the time to research and explore Music Therapy as a good fit for you before investing your time and money in a degree. Often people make this choice before ever visiting or volunteering in a real clinical setting or environment. Most Music Therapists enter the field due to their music experience but have had very little exposure to clinical work. I strongly recommend volunteering at your local hospital, nursing home, development center, school, day care, etc. Most music therapists leave the field after three years of clinical practice largely due to not having a realistic expectation of what it is like being a clinician. The other area of importance is clear financial expectations and planning. Setup for yourself conversations with clinicians in areas you believe you would like to work. Study average salary ranges in these areas. Begin to have conversations with people you trust about what type of lifestyle you want to be living in 3-5, 5-10 and 10-20 years. If this type of lifestyle fits comfortably within the average salary range of a Music Therapist in your area, you have a stronger likelihood of staying in and building a sustainable career in Music Therapy. Be clear in your planning. Do you desire to stay in clinical work; pursue academic and collegiate positions; or progress into administrative, management or business areas? Salary potential will be influenced by your planning in these three areas.