Therapeutic Musician Training Programs

Therapeutic musician training programs may be classroom-based, self-paced independent study, or mostly conducted online with some on-site requirements. They may train international students or they may be locally tied to a single health care organization.

The National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM) (http:/www.nsbtm.org) is a 501(c)3 organization consisting of leaders in the therapeutic music field who have defined standards for Therapeutic Musician Training Programs and who accredit the Programs meeting those standards. Alice Freeman served on the Board of Directors for six years.

The following programs have been accredited by the NSBTM since 2008. Students receiving certification through one of these programs have met a common set of minimum standards which include an extensive curriculum, musical proficiency and at least 45 hours of an internship in playing at bedside. There are other training programs which are recognized locally by health care organizations in their parts of the country, but which are not nationally accredited.

The Music for Healing and Transition Program (http:/www.mhtp.org) is the largest and oldest of the accredited training programs, founded in 1994. Melinda Gardiner is currently the Executive Director. The five training modules are taught in many locations around the US and students are assigned Advisers to aid their studies. Alice knows a number of graduates of this program and all were happy with their training. However, if classes are not conducted in a location near you (as was a problem for Alice in Wyoming), completing this program could require a lot of travel (and related expenses). MHTP accepts most instruments and voice for therapeutic musician training. Graduates are known as Certified Music Practitioners (CMP).

The Clinical Musician Certification Program (www.harpforhealing.com) was started by Laurie Riley (who was one of the founding members of MHTP) in 2002, was run by Dee Sweeney for eight years, and since August 2015 has been owned and directed by Mary Stevens. This program is a 2-level, self-paced course open to any musicians. The CMCP is a good choice for individuals who do not live near formal training opportunities. Each student is assigned a Mentor who helps guide the student through the program. Alice was certified in this program in 2012 and she currently works as a Mentor. Graduates are known as Certified Clinical Musicians (CCM).

The International Harp Therapy Program (http:/www.harptherapyinternational.com), directed by Christina Tourin, differs a bit from the other programs because admission is limited to harp players and frequently the patient is also involved in playing the instrument.  After 10 years as a classroom-based training program, IHTP has redesigned their training so that Level 1 is accessible to students anywhere who cannot travel. Their on-line lectures are incorporated into a comprehensive Study-At-Home format which has been available since January 2016. Alice has maintained certification in this program since 2010. Graduates are known as Certified Therapeutic Harp Practitioners (CTHP).

The Bedside Harp program (http://www.bedsideharp.com), founded by Edie Elkan in 1999, was accredited by the National Standards Board in 2017. This program offers full harp therapy services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Beginning and intermediate harp lessons are offered through the program, as well as a rigorous certification program for adults in therapeutic music. Classroom sessions are conducted in Pennsylvania. Graduates are known as Certified Harp Therapists (CHT) and Certified Master Harp Therapists (CMHT).

The International Healing Musician Program is a discontinued program that was run by Stella Benson (another former board member and instructor for MHTP). Stella passed away in 2014. This program was one of the first training programs accredited by the NSBTM. Alice was certified in this training program in 2008. IHMP graduates are known as Certified Healing Musicians (CHM).