AMTA's Strategic Priority on Research

Definition of Evidence-Based Music Therapy Practice (EBMTP)

During the 2010 Annual Board meeting, the Board approved and endorsed a definition of evidence-based music therapy practice.

"Evidence-based music therapy practice integrates the best available research, the music therapists’ expertise, and the needs, values, and preferences of the  individual(s) served."

Strategic Priority on Research Overview

Since the late ’90s the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) has been working from a Strategic Plan – a blueprint, if you will, for meeting the mission of AMTA. That plan addressed multiple strategic issues including developing a robust portfolio of evidence supporting the effectiveness of music therapy through documentation in research. 

In 2005, the AMTA Board of Directors approved and endorsed a resolution,

“to designate ‘Research’ as a strategic priority and to develop an operational plan that:

  1. addresses the direction of research in support of evidence-based music therapy practice and improved workforce demand; and,
  2. recognizes and incorporates, where necessary, federal, state and other entity requirements for evidence-driven research as it relates to practice policy and reimbursement.”

The strategic priority on research is ambitious and represents a multi-year effort. Essentially, the strategic priority on research includes a cultural shift such that using or consuming research is an integral and natural part of the music therapist’s toolkit and practice. At the same time, the resolution, above, is limited in its focus. This certainly does not negate or dismiss other critically important music therapy research activities. However, an important effort of the strategic priority is to discuss and emphasize the integral relationship between research findings, music therapy practice, and music therapy advocacy.

The goals and objectives in the Operational Plan for the strategic priority on research include the following:

  • Professional education: Music Therapists (MTs) will possess unequivocal understanding of the implication of research to evidence based practice policy and reimbursement decisions.
  • Dissemination: In the face of questions or requests for information (RFIs), external stakeholders and decision makers have ready access to literature demonstrating the efficacy and/or effectiveness of MT interventions and protocols.
  • Future research agenda guidance: MTs and clinician researchers will promote the development of robust, durable research findings in support of evidence-based practice.
  • Evidence-based practice: MTs will adopt nationally endorsed evidence-based protocols founded in sound theory and demonstrated via outcomes studies of efficacy and/or effectiveness.
  • Workforce implications: Define parameters of MT workforce employment trend data to consider the influence and impact of evidence-based protocols and practice.

In short, the strategic priority on research is about…

  • knowing how to use research to increase access to appropriate music therapy services  (advocacy)
  • knowing how research affects reimbursement and payment policy
  • a professional and association-wide unified effort
  • being a good consumer of music therapy research findings
  • understanding how other people view and assess research in music therapy
  • the ability of music therapists to respond to questions or concerns about music therapy research

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