Are all music therapists entertainers? No, but some are. Are all entertainers music therapists? No, but some are.
My experience~ I’ve found that especially when working with groups of older adults, misconceptions about music therapy may arise from by-standers, staff people, and/or family members. And for good reason. Music is fun. Music makes you laugh and smile. Music tugs the heart strings. Not to mention, a therapist who is highly skilled at gaining rapport quickly with the client may appear to be “entertaining.”
The difference~ While some music therapists are professional performers as well (We’re quite a talented bunch!), when providing music therapy, he/she uses music as the tool to address client-specific goals. Here are 7 differences between music therapists and entertainers.
A Music therapist ~
- Uses research-based music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship ( American Music Therapy Association, 2010).
- Focuses on the client. Music therapists purposefully create an environment suitable to healing the client and serving the physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and/or cognitive needs of the client.
- Assesses the client, designs a treatment plan, utilizes interventions to meet objectives, documents progress, evaluates treatment plan, and modifies the treatment plan according to progress.
- Is required to obtain a degree (bachelors, masters, PhD), attend a 6-month internship, and pass a board-certification exam.
- Provides service according to the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics regulated by the American Music Therapy Association in the US.
- Typically maintains board certification (MT-BC) through the Certification Board for Music Therapists in the US.
- Is a formally trained musician.
An Entertainer ~
- May be skilled at gaining rapport with an audience, while no therapeutic relationship or goals are present.
- Usually focuses on the audience entertainment. Entertainers perform music in front of an audience for the enjoyment of listening rather than healing.
- Does not engage in treatment planning or documentation.
- Is not required to obtain any formalized training or degree.
- May be a member of one of the several entertainer/musician associations.
- May or may not be licensed or certified.
- Is not necessarily a formally trained musician, but quite possibly could be an exceptionally talented musician.
Both music therapists and entertainers are often LOVED by their clients and audiences, respectively. There is a place for everyone. I am encouraged when one of my older adult facilities gets a new entertainer. The more music, the better! Music therapists don’t own MUSIC. However, music therapists are experts specifically at facilitating healing and promoting well-being through music interventions.
Have a comment? Throw it down! Would love to hear from you.
Here are some more MythBusters:
#9 Music Therapy is Therapy for Musicians, Right?
#8 Making Music is Just for Kids and Professionals
#7 Drumming is for Hippies Only
#6 Mozart Makes Your Kid a GENIUS
#5 You Either Have Rhythm or You Don’t
#4 Take 2 Bachs, a Bob Dylan, and Call the Music Therapist in the Morning
#2 Kum Ba Yah Campfire Tours
#1 It’s Too Late in Life to Play Music