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How Many Hours Is A Music Therapy Internship How Many Hours Is A Music Therapy Internship

Music Therapy

How Many Hours Is A Music Therapy Internship

Written by: Lina Schauer

Discover the duration of a music therapy internship and how many hours are required to complete this valuable experience in the field of music therapy.

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Music therapy is a creative and evidence-based approach that utilizes the power of music to promote healing and improve the well-being of individuals. It involves the use of music interventions by a trained and certified music therapist to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.

For individuals pursuing a career in music therapy, completing a music therapy internship is a crucial step in gaining practical experience and solidifying their skills. During an internship, aspiring music therapists have the opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced professionals, apply their knowledge in real-life settings, and develop the essential competencies required for a successful career in the field.

But how long does a music therapy internship typically last? The duration of a music therapy internship can vary depending on several factors, including the requirements set by the music therapy organization or certification board, the specific setting in which the internship takes place, and the individual’s personal goals and needs.

In this article, we will explore the different factors that contribute to the length of a music therapy internship and discuss the benefits and considerations of extended internships.


What is a music therapy internship?

A music therapy internship is a structured and supervised period of practical training that allows individuals studying music therapy to gain hands-on experience in the field. It is a requirement for most music therapy certification programs and provides aspiring music therapists with the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in a clinical setting.

During a music therapy internship, students work closely with a qualified music therapist and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to deliver music therapy sessions to clients. These sessions may take place in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, or community settings.

The intern is assigned specific responsibilities that typically include conducting assessments, designing individualized treatment plans, leading group sessions, implementing therapeutic interventions, documenting progress, and participating in team meetings.

Throughout the internship, interns receive supervision and feedback from their supervising music therapist, allowing them to continuously improve their skills and deepen their understanding of the therapeutic process. Internships may also include educational components such as seminars, workshops, and case discussions to further support the intern’s learning and professional growth.

By actively engaging in a variety of clinical experiences, interns develop clinical skills, ethical decision-making abilities, and cultural sensitivity. They also gain valuable insights into the practical realities of working as a music therapist, including time management, collaboration with multidisciplinary teams, and addressing the unique needs of clients with diverse backgrounds.

It is important to note that while internships are an essential part of the music therapy education process, they should not be mistaken for volunteer opportunities or casual work experiences. Internships are highly structured and closely supervised, with specific learning objectives and requirements that must be met to fulfill the necessary certification or educational criteria.


Length of a music therapy internship

The length of a music therapy internship can vary depending on several factors. Generally, internships range from a minimum of 500 hours to a maximum of 1200 hours, with the specific number of hours determined by the requirements set by the music therapy organization or certification board.

Most music therapy certification programs require a minimum number of hours in order to meet the eligibility criteria for certification. For example, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) in the United States requires a minimum of 1200 hours of clinical training for board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) status. However, some programs may have different hour requirements, so it is important for prospective interns to research and understand the specific guidelines for the certification program they are pursuing.

The duration of an internship is often spread out over a certain period of time, such as a semester or academic year. Some internships may be full-time, requiring interns to dedicate 30-40 hours per week to their clinical training, while others may be part-time, allowing interns to balance their internship hours with other commitments like coursework or part-time jobs.

It is important to note that the required number of internship hours is not the only measure of a successful internship. The quality and depth of the experiences gained during the internship period are equally important in preparing an individual for a career in music therapy. Interns should focus on gaining diverse and meaningful clinical experiences, even if they surpass the minimum hour requirement.

Additionally, internships provide an opportunity for interns to work with different populations, age groups, and clinical settings. This exposure enhances their skills as music therapists and allows them to gain a broader perspective on the impact of music therapy in various contexts. Interns may choose to specialize in specific populations or settings, and the length of the internship can be customized accordingly.

Ultimately, the duration of a music therapy internship is aimed at providing comprehensive training and preparation for individuals entering the professional field. It allows interns to refine their clinical skills, develop their professional identity, and gain the confidence needed to deliver effective music therapy interventions.


Determining the number of hours for a music therapy internship

The number of hours required for a music therapy internship is determined by various factors, including the guidelines set by music therapy organizations, certification boards, and academic institutions. These guidelines are based on the desired level of competency and experience necessary for individuals to practice as professional music therapists.

One of the primary influences on the number of internship hours is the certification requirements set by organizations such as the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) in the United States. The CBMT requires a minimum of 1200 clinical training hours for individuals seeking their board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) status. Similar certification boards in other countries may have their own hour requirements.

Academic institutions that offer music therapy programs may also have specific hour requirements as part of their curriculum. These requirements are typically designed to align with the standards set by certification boards and ensure that graduates meet the necessary qualifications for professional practice.

Another factor that influences the number of internship hours is the desired level of competence and experience. Music therapy is a multidimensional field that requires proficiency in skills such as musical improvisation, therapeutic communication, assessment, treatment planning, and documentation. It takes time and practice to develop these skills effectively.

Besides the minimum hour requirements, the number of internship hours can also vary depending on individual goals and needs. Some students may choose to complete additional hours beyond the minimum requirement to gain more experience and expand their skillset. This can be particularly beneficial for those considering specialization in a specific population or setting, as it allows for a deeper understanding of the unique aspects involved in working with that demographic.

Ultimately, the determination of the number of hours for a music therapy internship is a balance between meeting the minimum requirements and gaining sufficient practical experience to demonstrate competency in the field. It is crucial for individuals to research and understand the hour requirements set by certification boards and academic institutions, as well as to consider their own personal career goals and aspirations.


Factors influencing the duration of a music therapy internship

Several factors can influence the duration of a music therapy internship. These factors can vary depending on the requirements set by music therapy organizations, the specific internship setting, and the individual’s personal circumstances and goals.

1. Certification guidelines: Music therapy organizations and certification boards often specify the minimum number of internship hours required for eligibility. These guidelines, such as the 1200-hour requirement by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), serve as a benchmark for defining the duration of an internship.

2. Academic requirements: Some music therapy programs may have specific hour requirements as part of their curriculum. These requirements ensure that students gain the necessary practical experience to complement their academic coursework. The duration of an internship may be set based on these academic requirements.

3. Internship setting: The setting in which the internship takes place can also influence its duration. Internships in different clinical settings, such as hospitals, schools, or rehabilitation centers, may have varying demands and expectations. Some settings may require a longer internship duration to cover a broader range of experiences and populations.

4. Internship structure: The structure of the internship program, whether it is full-time or part-time, can impact the duration. Full-time internships typically require a higher number of hours per week and may be completed in a shorter period, while part-time internships allow for a more flexible schedule, often spread out over a longer duration.

5. Individual goals and needs: The intern’s own goals, needs, and personal circumstances can also play a role in determining the duration of the internship. Some individuals may choose to complete additional hours to gain more experience or specialize in a specific population or setting. Others may need to balance the internship with other responsibilities, such as coursework or part-time jobs.

6. Mentorship availability: The availability of qualified music therapists who can serve as mentors and supervisors can influence the duration of an internship. Limited mentorship opportunities may result in longer wait times or a more extended duration to ensure interns receive the necessary guidance and support.

Ultimately, the duration of a music therapy internship is influenced by a combination of these factors, with the specific requirements set by certification boards and academic institutions being the primary drivers. It is important for individuals to consider these factors and plan their internship duration accordingly to ensure they meet the necessary requirements and gain the valuable experiences needed for a successful career in music therapy.


Benefits of an extended music therapy internship

Opting for an extended music therapy internship beyond the minimum requirements can offer a range of benefits for aspiring music therapists. While the length of an internship may vary depending on individual circumstances and program requirements, choosing to dedicate additional time to clinical training can greatly enhance one’s professional development. Here are some key benefits of an extended music therapy internship:

1. Deeper clinical experience: Extended internships provide the opportunity to gain more extensive and diverse clinical experiences. As interns spend more time in the field, they can work with a wider range of clients, populations, and settings, which in turn strengthens their ability to adapt and provide effective interventions. This breadth of experience can also be helpful when seeking employment or specializing in specific areas of music therapy.

2. Skill refinement: Music therapy is a skill-based profession, and extended internships allow interns to further refine their clinical skills. With more time to work with clients, interns can develop stronger musical abilities, enhance their therapeutic communication skills, and fine-tune their intervention techniques. This additional practice and refinement contribute to the overall competency and effectiveness of the music therapist.

3. Increased confidence: The extended duration of an internship provides interns with more opportunities to observe their growth and progress. As interns witness the positive impact of their interventions and see clients achieve meaningful outcomes, their confidence in their abilities as a music therapist grows. This increased confidence translates into stronger therapeutic relationships and more impactful treatment outcomes.

4. Professional networking: Longer internships allow interns to build more substantial relationships with their supervisor, colleagues, and other professionals in the field. These connections can be valuable for future job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. Building a robust professional network during an extended internship can open doors to further professional growth and development.

5. Enhanced cultural competence: Working with a diverse range of clients and populations during an extended internship exposes interns to a variety of cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and practices. This experience contributes to the development of cultural sensitivity and competence, vital skills for providing inclusive and effective music therapy interventions.

6. Personal development: In addition to professional growth, extended internships offer personal development opportunities. Interns have the chance to reflect on their own strengths and areas for improvement, develop self-awareness, and build resilience in demanding healthcare environments. These personal growth experiences contribute to overall well-being and the ability to navigate future challenges in the field.

While extended internships require a commitment of time and effort, the benefits gained can significantly enhance an aspiring music therapist’s skills, confidence, and professional prospects. They provide a unique opportunity for in-depth learning, practical experience, and personal growth that can set interns on a strong path towards a successful and fulfilling music therapy career.


Challenges and considerations for longer music therapy internships

While longer music therapy internships can offer many benefits, there are also several challenges and considerations to keep in mind. It is important for aspiring music therapists to be aware of these factors in order to make informed decisions about the duration of their internship. Here are some key challenges and considerations:

1. Time commitment: Extended internships require a significant time commitment. This can be challenging for individuals who have other responsibilities, such as coursework, part-time employment, or personal commitments. It is essential to carefully consider one’s availability and ability to commit to the required hours before opting for a longer internship.

2. Financial implications: With longer internships, there may be increased costs associated with transportation, supervision fees, and living expenses. Interns should consider the financial implications involved and ensure that they have the necessary resources to support themselves during the extended internship period.

3. Burnout and fatigue: The demanding nature of music therapy internships can increase the risk of burnout and fatigue, especially during extended durations. Interns may start to feel overwhelmed and struggle to maintain their wellbeing. It is crucial to prioritize self-care and establish strategies for managing stress to prevent burnout during the course of a longer internship.

4. Availability of supervision: Finding qualified and available supervisors for an extended internship can be challenging. Longer internships may require additional supervision hours, and finding supervisors who have the availability and expertise to meet these requirements can sometimes be difficult. It is important to plan and secure supervision arrangements in advance to ensure a successful and supported internship experience.

5. Maintaining motivation: Extended internships can test the intern’s motivation and perseverance. As the duration increases, interns may find it challenging to maintain their enthusiasm and focus. Setting realistic and achievable goals, seeking support, and finding ways to stay engaged and inspired throughout the internship can help mitigate the risk of losing motivation.

6. Balancing skill development and achievement: While longer internships offer more time for skill development, interns should also be mindful of achieving the necessary competencies and meeting the required standards. Striking a balance between learning and achieving can be a challenge. It is essential to work closely with supervisors to ensure that all required goals and objectives are met within the extended duration of the internship.

Despite these challenges, many individuals find that the benefits of a longer music therapy internship outweigh the potential difficulties. It is important to carefully consider these challenges and make informed decisions about the duration of an internship based on individual circumstances, goals, and resources.

By being aware of the challenges and considerations and taking proactive steps to address them, aspiring music therapists can make the most of their extended internship experience, maximizing their professional growth and preparedness for a successful career in music therapy.



Music therapy internships play a pivotal role in the education and training of aspiring music therapists. The duration of an internship can vary based on factors such as certification requirements, program guidelines, and individual goals. While the minimum number of hours is typically defined by music therapy organizations and certification boards, opting for an extended internship can offer numerous benefits.

Extended internships provide aspiring music therapists with deeper clinical experience, skill refinement, increased confidence, and enhanced cultural competence. They also offer opportunities for professional networking and personal development. However, it is important to consider the challenges and considerations that come with longer internships, including time commitment, financial implications, burnout, supervision availability, maintaining motivation, and balancing skill development and achievement.

By carefully considering these factors and making informed decisions, individuals can determine the most appropriate duration for their music therapy internship. Whether choosing to meet the minimum requirements or going beyond them, the internship experience is a crucial stepping stone towards a successful career in music therapy.

Ultimately, the duration of a music therapy internship is about finding the right balance between building the necessary skills and gaining practical experience. By actively engaging in the internship process and taking advantage of the opportunities available, aspiring music therapists can lay a solid foundation for their future practice. The time and effort invested in an internship will undoubtedly contribute to their growth, professional competence, and ability to make a positive impact in the lives of their clients through the power of music therapy.

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