AMTA Advanced Competencies
The American Music Therapy Association has
established competency-based standards for ensuring the quality of education and
clinical training in the field of music therapy. As the clinical and research
activities of music therapy provide new information, the competency requirements
need to be reevaluated regularly to ensure consistency with current trends and
needs of the profession and to reflect the growth of the knowledge base of the
profession. The Association updates these competencies based on what knowledge,
skills, and abilities are needed to perform the various levels and types of
responsibilities to practice at both a professional level and an advanced level.
In November 2005 the AMTA Assembly of Delegates adopted the Advisory on
Levels of Practice in Music Therapy. The Advisory, which was developed by
the Education and Training Advisory Board, distinguishes two Levels of Practice
within the music therapy profession:
Professional Level of Practice: based on the
AMTA Professional Competencies acquired with a baccalaureate degree
in music therapy or its equivalent, which leads to entrance into the
profession and Board Certification in Music Therapy.
Advanced Level of Practice: based on the AMTA
Advanced Competencies, which is defined as the practice of music
therapy wherein the music therapist applies and integrates a comprehensive
synthesis of theories, research, treatment knowledge, musicianship, clinical
skills, and personal awareness to address client needs. A music therapist at
an Advanced Level of Practice has at least a bachelor’s degree or its
equivalent in music therapy, a current professional designation or
credential in music therapy (i.e., ACMT, CMT, MT-BC, or RMT), professional
experience, and further education and/or training (e.g., receiving clinical
supervision, a graduate degree, and/or advanced training). It is anticipated
that in the future music therapists at the Advanced Level of Practice will
hold at least a master’s degree in music therapy that includes advanced
clinical education. The advanced music therapist demonstrates comprehensive
understanding of foundations and principles of music, music therapy,
treatment, and management in clinical, educational, research, and/or
Following the adoption of the Advisory on
Levels of Practice in Music Therapy, AMTA appointed a Task Force on Advanced
Competencies, which was charged with developing competencies for the Advanced
Level of Practice as outlined in the Advisory. The Advisory describes four
domains for the Advanced Level of Practice: Professional Growth, Musical
Development, Personal Growth and Development, and Integrative Clinical
Experience. The general headings and subheadings of the proposed Advanced
Competencies have been reorganized to provide a better understanding of the
context of these competencies, not only within the music therapy profession, but
also beyond it for other constituencies. It is acknowledged that the advanced
music therapist may not demonstrate competence in each of the areas of the
Advanced Competencies, but would instead demonstrate acquisition of the
majority of these competencies, with most, if not all, in the area(s) of his/her
practice (e.g., clinical, supervisory, academic, research).
The Advanced Competencies provide
guidelines for academia, both in regards to qualifications for
university/college faculty and in setting standards for master’s degree programs
in music therapy. The AMTA Standards for Education and Clinical Training specify
standards for academic faculty employed full-time at a college or university
with primary responsibilities for teaching music therapy and/or directing a
music therapy program at the undergraduate or graduate level. Such
qualifications for faculty require a music therapist practicing at an Advanced
Level of Practice. The AMTA Standards for Master’s Degrees state that “the
purpose of the master’s degree programs in music therapy is to impart advanced
competencies, as specified in the AMTA Advanced Competencies. These
degree programs provide breadth and depth beyond the AMTA Professional
Competencies required for entrance into the music therapy profession.” The
Advanced Competencies will also serve to guide the development of
standards for the doctoral degree in music therapy, which shall focus on
advanced competence in research, theory development, clinical practice,
supervision, college teaching, and/or clinical administration.
The Advanced Competencies also provide
guidelines for the Advanced Level of Practice in clinical, supervisory,
administrative and research settings, as well as in government relations work
dealing with such issues as state licensures and employment practices. Music
therapists with master’s degrees and other professional requirements are being
granted state licensures in the creative arts therapies (music therapy) and
related disciplines in some states.
The initial version of the Advanced
Competencies was adopted by the AMTA Assembly of Delegates in 2007 and was
viewed as a work in progress. Following feedback from a number of sources,
including the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), a revised version
is being submitted in 2009 for AMTA approval.
In conclusion, the Advanced Competencies
serve as a vision for the further growth and development of the profession in
issues related to advanced education and training, and more specifically, the
relationship of these competencies to advanced degrees, education and training
requirements, levels of practice, professional titles and designations, and
various state licensures, based on current and future trends.
AMTA Advanced Competencies
I. PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE
1.1 Apply comprehensive knowledge of the
foundations and principles of music therapy practice.
1.2 Synthesize comprehensive knowledge of
current theories and deduce their implications for music therapy practice
1.3 Differentiate the theoretical or
treatment orientations of current models of music therapy.
1.4 Identify theoretical constructs
underlying various clinical practices and research approaches.
1.5 Understand emerging models and trends in
1.6 Apply current literature in music therapy
and related fields relevant to one’s area(s) of expertise.
B. Clinical Practice
2. 0 Clinical Supervision
2.1 Establish and maintain effective
2.2 Promote the professional growth,
self-awareness, and musical development of the supervisee.
2.3 Apply theories of supervision and
research findings to music therapy supervision.
2.4 Design and implement methods of observing
and evaluating supervisees that have positive effects on music therapy
students and professionals at various levels of advancement and at different
stages in the supervisory process.
2.5 Analyze the supervisee’s music therapy
sessions in terms of both the effects of specific musical, verbal, and
nonverbal interventions and the musical and interpersonal dynamics and
processes of the client(s)-therapist relationship.
2.6 Use music to facilitate the supervisory
2.7 Apply knowledge of norms and practices of
other cultures to the supervisory process.
2.8 Evaluate the effectiveness of various
approaches and techniques of supervision.
2.9 Evaluate the effects of one’s own
personality, supervisory style, and limitations on the supervisee and the
supervisory process and seek consultation when appropriate.
3. 0 Clinical Administration
3.1 Adhere to laws and occupational
regulations governing the provision of education and health services,
particularly with regard to music therapy.
3.2 Adhere to accreditation requirements for
clinical agencies, particularly with regard to music therapy.
3.3 Employ music therapy reimbursement and
3.4 Develop effective staffing patterns for
the provision of music therapy services.
3.5 Develop effective recruiting and
interviewing strategies for student and professional applicants.
3.6 Develop policies and procedures for staff
evaluation and supervision.
3.7 Utilize management strategies to
establish and maintain effective relationships and a high level of
motivation among staff.
3.8 Integrate music therapy staff and
programs into the agency’s service delivery systems.
3.9 Design methods for evaluating music
therapy programs and service delivery.
4.0 Advanced Clinical Skills
4.1 Apply comprehensive knowledge of current
methods of music therapy assessment, treatment, and evaluation.
4.2 Utilize comprehensive knowledge of human
growth and development, musical development, diagnostic classifications,
etiology, symptomatology, and prognosis in formulating treatment plans.
4.3 Understand the contraindications of music
therapy for client populations served.
4.4 Understand the dynamics and processes of
therapy from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
4.5 Utilize the dynamics and processes of
various theoretical models in individual, dyadic, family, and group music
4.6 Design or adapt assessment and evaluation
procedures for various client populations.
4.7 Utilize advanced music therapy methods
(e.g., listening, improvising, performing, composing) within one or more
theoretical frameworks to assess and evaluate clients’ strengths, needs, and
4.8 Design treatment programs for emerging
4.9 Employ one or more models of music
therapy requiring advanced training.
4.10 Utilize advanced verbal and nonverbal
interpersonal skills within a music therapy context.
4.11 Assume the responsibilities of a primary
4.12 Relate clinical phenomena in music
therapy to the broader treatment context.
4.13 Respond to the dynamics of musical and
interpersonal relationships that emerge at different stages in the therapy
4.14 Fulfill the clinical roles and
responsibilities of a music therapist within a total treatment milieu and in
4.15 Apply advanced skills in co-facilitating
treatment with professionals from other disciplines.
4.16 Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of
4.17 Understand the differential uses of the
creative arts therapies and the roles of art, dance/movement, drama,
psychodrama, and poetry therapy in relation to music therapy.
4.18 Apply creative processes within music
4.19 Employ imagery and ritual in music
4.20 Understand and respond to potential
physical and psychological risks to client health and safety.
C. College/University Teaching
5.1 Design academic curricula, courses, and
clinical training programs in music therapy consistent with current
theories, research, competencies, and standards, including those for
national accreditation and program approval.
5.2 Utilize current educational resources in
music therapy (e.g., equipment, audio-visual aids, materials, technology).
5.3 Draw from a breadth and depth of
knowledge of clinical practice in teaching music therapy.
5.4 Establish and maintain effective
5.5 Communicate with other faculty,
departments, and administration regarding the music therapy program and its
5.6 Develop standards and procedures for
admission and retention that support educational objectives consistent with
the policies of the institution.
5.7 Utilize various methods of teaching
(e.g., lecture, demonstration, role-playing, group discussion, collaborative
5.8 Supervise and mentor students in clinical
training, supervision, teaching, and research.
5.9 Advise and counsel students with regard
to academic and professional matters.
5.10 Design and apply means of evaluating
student competence, both internal (e.g., proficiency exams) and external
(e.g., evaluations from clinical training supervisors).
5.11 Utilize internal, external, and
self-evaluations to monitor the effectiveness of academic courses and
programs in meeting educational objectives.
6.1 Perform comprehensive literature searches
using various indices to identify gaps in knowledge.
6.2 Translate theories, issues, and problems
in clinical practice, supervision, administration, and higher education into
meaningful research hypotheses or guiding questions.
6.3 Apply quantitative and qualitative
research designs according to their indicated uses.
6.4 Conduct advanced research using one or
more research approaches (e.g., historical, philosophical, qualitative,
6.5 Acknowledge one’s biases and personal
limitations related to research.
6.6 Write grant proposals for funding
6.7 Conduct research according to ethical
principles for protection of human participants, including informed consent,
assessment of risk and benefit, and participant selection.
6.8 Collect and analyze data using
appropriate procedures to avoid or minimize potential confounds.
6.9 Collaborate with others in conducting
6.10 Use various methods of data analysis.
6.11 Interpret and disseminate research
results consistent with established standards of inquiry.
6.12 Evaluate scholarly and student research
regarding research questions or problems, methods, procedures, data
collection, analysis, and conclusions.
II. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
A. Musical and Artistic Development
7.1 Reproduce, notate, and transcribe musical
responses of clients.
7.2 Compose music, including songs, in
various styles to meet specific therapeutic objectives.
7.3 Provide spontaneous musical support for
7.4 Improvise in a variety of musical styles.
7.5 Utilize a wide variety of improvisatory
techniques for therapeutic purposes.
7.6 Design music listening programs for
7.7 Use different methods of musical analysis
for client assessment and evaluation.
7.8 Adapt and select musical material for
different musical cultures and sub-cultures.
7.9 Apply advanced skills in the clinical use
of at least two of the following: keyboard, voice, guitar and/or percussion.
7.10 Utilize extensive and varied repertoire
of popular, folk, and traditional songs.
B. Personal Development and Professional Role
8.1 Utilize self awareness and insight to
deepen the client’s process in music therapy.
8.2 Identify and address one's personal
8.3 Apply the principles of effective
8.4 Use personal reflection (e.g.,
journaling, artistic involvement, meditation, other spiritual pursuits).
8.5 Recognize limitations in competence and
8.6 Practice strategies for self care.
8.7 Selectively modify music therapy
approaches based on knowledge of the roles and meanings of music in various
8.8 Work with culturally diverse populations,
applying knowledge of how culture influences issues regarding identity
formation, concepts of health and pathology, and understanding of the role
8.9 Understand how music therapy is practiced
in other cultures.
8.10 Apply current technology to music
8.11 Adhere to the AMTA Code of Ethics and
Standards of Clinical Practice using best professional judgment in all areas
of professional conduct.
The Task Force gratefully acknowledges the
previous work of Kenneth Bruscia (1986) in identifying “Advanced Competencies in
Music Therapy.” The ideas Bruscia expressed served as a basis for these
Members of the Task force on Advanced
Competencies were Jane Creagan, Michele Forinash (Chair), Gary Johnson, Cathy
McKinney, Christine Neugebauer, Paul Nolan, Marilyn Sandness, and Elizabeth
Bruscia, K. (1986). Advanced competencies in
music therapy. Music Therapy, 6A, 57-67.
advanced level of practice - the practice of
music therapy wherein the therapist, applying the integration of in-depth
theories, research, treatment knowledge, musicianship, clinical skills, and
personal awareness, assumes a central role using process-oriented or
outcome-oriented music therapy methods to address a broad spectrum of client
advanced training - learning of a
comprehensive approach to, or model of, music therapy intended for broad and
in-depth clinical application. The training occurs over an extended period of
time; includes both didactic instruction and extensive, supervised clinical
application; and results in the acquisition of a number of advanced
competencies. Advanced training typically requires the master's degree as a
prerequisite or co-requisite of the training program. Examples include, but are
not limited to, Analytic Music Therapy, Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and
Music, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy.
construct - a working hypothesis or
dynamics - forces that interplay in the
mind as a manifestation of purposeful intentions working concurrently or in
mutual opposition. These forces can include the patterns of actions and
reactions within the music, therapist and client triangle, as well as within
knowledge - facts or ideas acquired by
study, investigation, observation, or experience.4
model - a. comprehensive approach to
assessment, treatment, and evaluation which includes theoretical principles,
clinical implications and contraindications, goals, methodological guidelines
and specifications, and the use of procedural sequences and techniques.5
musical responses - the musical actions or
reactions of a person in response to external or internal stimuli and the
physiological, affective, motor, cognitive, or communicative responses to
primary therapist - whether in an
individual private practice or working within a team approach, the person who
facilitates the therapeutic work of the highest importance.
process - a sequence of conscious and
unconscious events leading to some change or alteration in the state of a
dynamic system that includes the client, the music, and the music therapist.6
supervision - usually referred to as
clinical, or music therapy, supervision. This educational relationship consists
of an on-going consultation with another health care professional about the
supervisee’s emerging role or continued growth as a clinician. Clinical
supervision provides support for the supervisee for the purpose of development
as a music therapist.
understanding - knowledge of or
familiarity with a particular thing; skill in dealing with or handling
something.7 Perception and comprehension of the nature and significance of.8
 Merriam-Webster. (2006-2007).
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from
 Adapted from Cameron, N., & Rychlak, J. F. (1985).
and psychopathology: A dynamic approach (2nd ed). Boston: Houghton Mifflin
 Merriam-Webster. (2006-2007). Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.
January 31, 2007, from
 Adapted from Merriam-Webster. (2006-2007). Merriam-Webster’s online
dictionary. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from
 Bruscia, K. (1998) Defining music therapy (2nd ed.). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona
 Adapted from Colman, A. M. (2006). A dictionary of psychology. In Oxford
Reference Online. Retrieved September 29, 2006 from
 Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 31, 2007, from Dictionary.com website:
 understanding. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English
Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from Dictionary.com
Current as of 11/09