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What is Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)® ?

Neurologic Music Therapy is an evidence-based treatment system that uses standardized, research-based techniques to treat the brain using specific elements of music such as rhythm, melody, dynamics, tempo, etc.. The Neurologic Music Therapist is a stimulus specialist who is trained in the the neuroscience of music perception, music production/creation, and music cognition. The Neurologic Music Therapist uses standardized techniques to address non-musical goals such as speech, physical movement, cognition and other functional abilities. The therapist focuses on the music as therapy, emphasizing specific elements of music in the construction of therapeutic exercises as research so indicates, in order to optimize function and/or reroute neuropathways to achieve functionality.


Research has shown that rhythm and music are able to prime motor, cognition, and speech and does so at a subconscious level. Music can be used to help build new connections in the brain (called neuropathways) thus improving brain function and allowing one to lead a more productive and functional life. 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 Handbook of Neurologic Music Therapy, 2014 by Dr. Michael Thaut and Rhythm, Music, and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Applications, 2005 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, listening to and/or writing music, Neurologic Music Therapy is an evidence-based treatment system in which not only NMTs are trained but also other allied professionals such as PTs, OTs, SLPs, neuropsychologists etc. NMT Affiliates are trained in the neuroscience of  music and how specific elements drive changes in the brain and brain connections (called neuropathways) through specific research-based techniques. These techniques are embedded in therapeutic music exercises and  are applied in a consistent manner based on the therapeutic goal of the client.

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

What kind of training do you have to 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 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 five years while participating in NMT Professional Development such as NMT Academy Global Support Groups, Academy-endorsed NMT local support chapters, Academy sponsored symposiums, and other affiliate determined professional development that deepens the therapist's knowledge and application of NMT.


During that five year period, the Neurologic Music Therapists at NMTSA must also participate in the NMT Fellowship process through the Academy, which provides continuing education as well as peer review of the therapist's clinical application of NMT.


Upon successful completion of this advanced clinical process, 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 Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy website for more information.

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What types of neurologic disorders does NMTSA  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 how NMTSA uses NMT to treat specific neurologic conditions, please visit our Who We Serve Page.

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.

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