Looking for first hand experience with art or music therapy
January 29, 2014 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to decide whether to pursue a career in music and/or art therapy. (I know they're quite different) Does anyone have an experience they can share from either the patient or practitioner standpoint?

There's a lot of differing opinion on the merits of and feasibility of as a career. My gut response, of course, is always to come to the green and try and find a first-person source.
posted by es_de_bah to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I work with a music therapist. We hire him to come and work with our consumers (children and adults with developmental disabilities). At least here, in Western Mass, he seems to get a lot of business--he has hired other MTs to work with him and I think he may have even hired someone to help with scheduling. I'm not sure of his pay rate, but we pay him pretty well.
posted by chaiminda at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2014

My cousin literally wrote the book on art therapy. Her name was Helen Landgarten and she's written many books on the subject. In addition, you might be able to get more information on the field by contacting the Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic, which is part of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2014

A good friend and former roommate of mine had a master's in music therapy. He got paid ok, I think around $30 an hour, 10 years ago. The downsides were that he had to drive all over the place, and he could not find a full time salaried job anywhere in our metro. He was always doing multiple part time fill-in jobs. Ultimately he got a second master's degree in clinical social work which led to a more standard 9-5 situation.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 10:54 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

My experience with folks I know who are music therapists pretty much mirrors exactly what BabeTheBlueOx said. Hourly pay is pretty decent, like $30-$50 an hour, but it isn't full-time, so that doesn't include benefits or anything, and there's a lot of doing the hustle of picking up one gig after the other.

Which may not be a bad thing - some people really like that lifestyle and want that kind of freedom. One of the tough things though is that you almost have to have a Master's degree these days to do that, which is kind of an investment for what ends up being pretty rocky employment situation.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:56 AM on January 29, 2014

A friend recently shared this note by her mentor which is an interesting perspective on the teaching side of the career: "So You Want to Be an Adjunct Art Therapy Professor."

Also, when I lived in Scandianvia on a study abroad program, my host mother was an art therapist. There was constant of demand for her work both as a therapist and a teacher. If the market here doesn't look good to you, consider studying and practicing in Northern Europe.
posted by jardinier at 11:09 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I work with a music therapist at a program for kids with intensive needs. My takeaway from her is that it is difficult to find full-time work - there isn't a huge demand for someone for 40 hours a week. Most people piece together several contract positions.

In my locale as funding has become an issue these valuable, but considered non-essential positions are harder to come by. They are the first positions to be cut if someone leaves.

In other cities you could have a very different experience but here in a large Midwestern city with a music therapy program offered at the local university, the market is a bit more saturated.
posted by Aranquis at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2014

When my daughter had treatment for chronic pain in Philadelphia last summer (a 4 week program), the daily schedule included music and art therapy sessions mixed in with the physio and occupational therapy. She found it incredibly helpful as a distraction from the painful treatments. If she was really struggling with something in the physio program, quite often either the music or art therapist would come and help coach her through it, working alongside the physiotherapists, who the patients often have negative relationships with because they are so strict and force them to do so much painful activity. (The art therapist in particular enjoyed working with my daughter because she is very much into art, whereas the majority of patients with this particular condition are from competitive sports backgrounds, and don't "get" art so much so struggle to appreciate why it might help them with other aspects of their treatment.)

I think the art and music therapists she worked with were full-time just for the pain department. Judging by the size of the hospital and the variety of art on display each major department likely has its own therapists. I know CHOP is a particularly well-funded and advanced hospital but I would hope that most children's hospitals in major cities would have some on staff.
posted by valleys at 11:32 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I second that I've had it used / incorporated secondarily to occupational therapy. Toys, games, drawing, music, and so on. Still helping the OT issues, but in a more 'fun' way.
posted by tilde at 4:34 PM on January 29, 2014

My wife's friend is a music therapist, been doing for about ten years or so and she works for herself. She specializes in working with autistic children. Full time but she does have to drive all day long to get to the kid's houses where she holds the sessions. I think that she initially had some issues in setting up her clients but now is doing well.

She loves it and is very happy - makes good money. This is in Arizona.
posted by gregjunior at 10:41 AM on January 30, 2014

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