What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is an allied health profession and one of the expressive therapies. A music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life, by using music experiences such as free improvisation, singing, and listening to, discussing, and moving to music to achieve treatment goals. Referrals to music therapy services may be made by other health care professionals such as physicians, psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Clients can also choose to pursue music therapy services without a referral (i.e., self-referral).

Music therapy comes in two different forms: active and receptive. In active therapy, the therapist and patient actively participate in creating music with instruments, their voice, or other objects. This allows for the patient to be creative and expressive through the art of music. Receptive therapy takes place in a more relaxed setting where the therapist plays or makes music to the patient who is free to draw, listen or meditate. Usually the therapist determines the method unless specifically requested by the patient.

For more information, please visit the American Music Therapy Association website.

*Dorothy Boycecertified music therapist

Teaching Artist Statement:

I incorporate elements of music and other expressive arts into therapy for children and adults with mental health, intellectual and physical disabilities to achieve individualized non-musical goals.  I view music as an essential rather than supplemental part of any therapy program because music affects the brain differently than any other method of treatment.  My approach is “person-centered”, and sessions are designed and adjusted to fit the unique strengths, needs and choices of each individual.

Teaching bio:

Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Miami.  She is a Board Certified Music Therapist and Certified Alcohol &Drug Counselor.  She has 20 years of experience developing therapeutic programs and facilitating individual, family and group sessions.  She received the Dauphin County MH/MR Award for Exceptional Service in 2003.  She is a member of the American Music Therapy Association.

Performing Bio:

As a high school student, Dorothy played flute, oboe, bassoon and alto saxophone in various school and community bands and orchestras.   At the University of Miami, she  performed with the UM Music Therapy Ensemble, a group that provided interactive singing and dancing performances in various inpatient settings.  She was also a member of the UM Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Vocal Ensemble.  She has presented Music Therapy workshops since graduation.


*Brian Helman, certified music therapist