Neurologic Music Therapy


What is Neurologic Music Therapy?

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is an advanced form of music therapy that uses research-based techniques to treat the brain using music and rhythm. NMT uses these techniques to achieve non-musical goals such as speech, physical movement, cognition, and other conditions of the nervous system. It is defined by the 'Robert F. Unkefer' Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy as, "the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor function due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system."


Research has shown that rhythm and music affect multiple areas of the human brain, at once, on a subconscious level. Because of this fact, rhythm can be used to help build new connections in the brain (called neuropathways) thus improving a subject's brain function and allowing them to lead more productive and functional lives. For more information about how NMTSA uses Neurologic Music Therapy to treat specific neurologic conditions, please visit our Who We Serve page.


For more information about the research and development of NMT, read Rhythm, Music, and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Applications by Dr. Michael Thaut.


What is the difference between Neurologic Music Therapy and regular music therapy?

While general music therapy seeks to treat many different aspects of patient need (emotional, physical, mental, etc.) through playing or writing music, Neurologic Music Therapy focuses specifically on music and rhythm's physical effect on the brain and brain connections (called neuropathways) through specific research-based techniques (called NMT interventions). NMT interventions are applied in a consistent manner based on the therapeutic goal of the client.

Neurologic Music Therapists are required to have completed additional training above and beyond standard music therapy certification in order to maintain their NMT designation.


What kind of training do you have complete to be a Neurologic Music Therapist?

Neurologic Music Therapists must first complete an undergraduate program in music therapy and obtain certification through the national Certification Board for Music Therapists, resulting in the credential "Music Therapist - Board Certified" (MT-BC). Additionally, a music therapist must also complete the 4-day, 30-hour training institute at the 'Robert F. Unkefer’ Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy, which allows the board-certified music therapist to practice and use the professional designation of Neurologic Music Therapist (NMT) for three years.


During that three year period, the Neurologic Music Therapists at NMTSA must also return to the Academy for the Advanced Training Institute, which provides continuing education as well as peer review of the therapist's clinical application of NMT.


Upon successful completion of this advanced training, the therapist will be registered as a Fellow of the Academy (NMT Fellow). The status of Fellow is maintained by successful completion of the Advanced Training Institute every five years thereafter.


Visit the 'Robert F. Unkefer' Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy website for more information.

NMTSA  |  Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona


What types of neurologic disorders do you provide therapy for?

NMTSA provides Neurologic Music Therapy services for clients with a wide variety of neurologic disorders including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, sensory integration disorder, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, developmental delay, and many more. To find out about how NMTSA uses NMT to treat specific neurologic conditions, please visit our Who We Serve Page.


While the majority of NMTSA's clients are school-age children, we serve all ages including adult clients.

What ages do you serve?


Do you come to the home to provide therapy?

No. Our services are only provided out of our clinic location in central Phoenix. This allows NMTSA's therapists including the ability to see more clients per day, collaborate with their colleagues on best-practice methods, provide occasional peer interaction opportunities for clients as well as have immediate access to specialized equipment according to client needs such as sensory equipment, the recordings studio, etc.


However, if you are part of a school, clinic or other organization interested in having an NMTSA therapist give a presentation on NMT, please visit our Professional Consultation page for more information and to set up an appointment.

NMTSA  |  Therapy Sessions

Therapy sessions at NMTSA may be individualized, one-on-one for each client, or a group setting based on the needs of the client and recommendations by the therapist. To learn more about individualized and group NMT sessions, please visit our Therapy Programs page.


Are these individual or group Neurologic Music Therapy sessions?


How long is a Neurologic Music Therapy session? How often?

Individualized NMT sessions at NMTSA are one hour in length. The final 5 - 10 minutes of each session are reserved for talking with the client's parent or caregiver about what was done during therapy, progress toward goals, and strategies to use during the week at home.


Typically, clients have one NMT session per week, but this depends on a client's individualized treatment plan and other funding source requirements, which may allow for multiple sessions per week.


What do you do during a therapy session?

A session at NMTSA can take on many forms depending on the therapeutic goals of the client. Clients working on speech may practice using their voice while singing along with rhythmic guitar playing or preparing their vocal muscles by playing wind instruments. Clients working on attention may be given a musical instrument to play while concentrating on sitting in their chair. Clients working on walking or other physical movement may move around playing drums in NMTSA's walking track or in the therapy room.


During all of these interventions, the therapist will be focused on how rhythm is being used to accomplish a client's goals. To find out about how NMTSA uses NMT to address specific neurologic conditions, please visit our Who We Serve page.

NMTSA  |  Getting Started


Can I come observe a Neurologic Music Therapy session?

Arrangements may be made for observing an NMT session. If you are family of an NMTSA client, ask your therapist about observing a session. If you are a student or other clinical professional interested in observing one of our NMT sessions, please call us at 602-840-6410 and speak with our Clinical Training Director or e-mail Please note that NMTSA always strictly abides by HIPPA regulations regarding client privacy and confidentiality.


How do I sign up to start music therapy at NMTSA?

The first step to obtaining services at NMTSA is to contact us either by phone at 602-840-6410 or by e-mail at Our Coordinator of Services will then discuss your specific need and situation. You may also fill out our Online Referral Form.


How much does Neurologic Music Therapy cost at your clinic? Does health insurance cover it?

Services at NMTSA may be paid for through a variety of methods:

Private Pay - You may pay out-of-pocket for services at NMTSA. Fees for service will vary based on the type and frequency of the therapy you will receive.

Private Health Insurance - Recently, Arizona instituted Steven's Law, which requires insurance carriers to provide coverage for medically necessary therapies for children and teens with autism spectrum disorders, similar to the existing coverage for other medically necessary treatments for other disorders. 


Other private health insurance companies may also provide reimbursement for services at NMTSA. Please check with your insurance provider as well as NMTSA's Coordinator of Services to find out if this option will work for you.


Funded through AZ Department of Disabilities (DDD) - NMTSA has limited slots available for this funding source. 


2702 N 3rd Street, Suite 1000, Phoenix, AZ 85004  |  (602) 840-6410