Music Therapy


Music therapists are employed by schools, hospitals, respite homes, mental health and community settings, privately and by local authorities in the UK and around the world. Music therapy is recognised through act of parliament and by the NHS to treat adults and children with various emotional, physical, cognitive and communication difficulties. Music therapy does not generally involve teaching musical skills, and clients can be seen one-to-one, or in a small group. Therapists must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to practice.


A music therapy session typically lasts between 30 and 50 minutes and is predominantly client led. The process usually involves free improvisation, where the therapist and client create spontaneous / improvised music together, using a wide range of high quality musical instruments. More structured exercises may also be used, using the instruments and music to support the client in developing, for example, attention, memory, movement and communication or language skills. Improvisation in music therapy is very similar to psychotherapy, instead of the client and therapist talking together, a channel of communication develops using rhythm, melody, harmony, pitch, singing, intensity of volume and variations in tempo, all of which share very similar characteristics with spoken language and conversation. Talking may feature in sessions, as in conventional counselling, if the client chooses.

The potential for music improvisation to open up a non-verbal channel of communication for clients can serve as a powerful tool in addressing emotional and psychological problems resulting from trauma or abuse, and impaired communication due to developmental delay or conditions affecting speech, communication and social interaction.

Music therapists may also use song writing, composition, music software and technology. Such techniques and equipment further improve accessibility for more severely impaired clients or for clients who are not motivated to use acoustic, conventional instruments as they identify more with contemporary music styles. All of these approaches can provide effective means for clients to express difficult feelings as well as improving planning, organising and problem solving skills.

The length of treatment depends on the recommendations of the therapist, following assessment and ongoing review.

Music therapy can support positive change in adults and children who experience severe physical, behavioural, social, emotional and/or communication difficulties. These difficulties may arise from, for example:

Further information

The following information leaflets about Music Therapy Bedfordshire are available by calling 07973 582380 or follow the link to download.

Please follow the links to information sheets published by the British Association for Music Therapy