Music Therapy and Military Populations


Publication Year: 2014

Media Type: Report


The American Music Therapy Association presents this briefing paper to mili-tary leadership, military support personnel, federal government officials, repre-sentatives of arts and other related organizations, music therapy professionals, and non-profit policy makers. The purpose of this paper is to describe the state-of-the-art of music therapy with military populations and to provide recommen-dations for program development, research, and practice policy. [Overview p. 5]


The American Music Therapy Association is pleased to present this briefing paper to military leadership, military support personnel, federal government officials, representatives of arts and other related organizations, music therapy professionals, and non-profit policy makers. The purpose of this briefing paper is to outline the status of music therapy in the military. This information provides the groundwork to improve access to music therapy services among military populations and inform strategic plans for expanded and prioritized implementation of music therapy programs, research, and practice policy in the military. The overall intentions are to keep pace with the current needs of service members and to support mission readiness and a resilient military and veteran population. The paper includes four sections: Background, Model Programs, Research, and Recommendations and Conclusions.

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is a professional organization representing 6,000+ music therapists nationwide and in some thirty countries around the world. The profession has a tradition and steadfast commitment to program and research excellence for service members and their families. This commitment spans all phases of military service.

In 1945, the U.S. War Department issued Technical Bulletin 187 detailing a program on the use of music for reconditioning among service members convalescing in Army hospitals. This program demonstrated how music could be incorporated in multiple therapeutic services including recreation, education, occupational therapy, and physical reconditioning (U.S. War Department, 1945, pp. 2–3). Following WWII, music therapy grew and developed as a profession and as a direct result of research endorsed by the Army and Office of the Surgeon General. However, the seeds planted early on in the military have not mirrored the rate of growth and development of the profession relative to other public and private practice settings. Recommendations to address this variance are included, herein, in the areas of research, practice policy, and treatment and program development.

The briefing paper does not attempt to conduct a comprehensive review of all clinical populations served by music therapists among the military’s wounded, ill, and injured. However, the paper focuses on service members and veterans involved in more recent deployments. Music therapists provide services to military personnel, their families, service members in transition, and veterans nationwide. These music therapy programs are on military installations, in military treatment facilities, in Veterans Administration healthcare facilities, in communities, and elsewhere. A sampling of exemplary programs is highlighted and includes both active duty and veteran programs. [Executive Summary p. 4]

Arts & Intersections: Military

Categories: Arts and Military


Series Title:




Pages: 44

Resources: Document


Name: American Music Therapy Association

Website URL: