Music Therapist

Careers in Mental Health

Marti Bowles, MT-BC
Musical Therapist

Generic Information

  • Assesses information on needs, interests, life experience, deficiencies, and recreational background of patients to provide an initial and comprehensive assessment to select appropriate treatment services.
  • Assesses resident’s/patient’s skills, proficiencies, and knowledge level of program resources to establish appropriate participation levels; measures current functioning needs, skills, and limitations to assigns appropriate treatment programs.
  • Observes patient behavior and interaction with peers to assess the needs of residents in relationship to group activity development.
  • Designs and develops individual treatment programs which address patient’s functional needs; writes behavior objectives for patients defining desired behavioral changes
  • Provides opportunities for self-expression, and nonverbal communication.
  • Develops recreational treatment plans which utilize existing plans for community integration.
  • Develops and maintains documentation strategies and methods which record residents’ progress in the program.
  • Works as a part of patient-centered interdisciplinary teams that include psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other therapists.
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Master’s degree required in some states)
* License issued by State of Oregon Health Licensing Board
  • Empathetic active listening skills
  • Clinical knowledge, skills and abilities in working with persons with mental illness
  • Ability to function independently and as a part of a patient-centered interdisciplinary treatment team
  • Highly attentive to detail, confidentiality, and accuracy
  • Verbal and written communication skills
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Outpatient mental health agencies
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Domestic violence and homeless shelters
  • Community agencies and nonprofit settings


Music is a way to express oneself without words. Music Therapists at the Oregon State Hospital help patients access that expression every day. When words fail, patients can turn to the power of music to convey their thoughts and feelings within comfortable classroom spaces designed to facilitate expression. This creative medium helps patients in many ways including cognitive stabilization, emotional regulation, and stress management. As a part of interdisciplinary care teams, the Music Therapists develop care plans designed to promote overall patient progress toward healing.

The Music Therapist provides individualized assessments and treatment programs using music as therapy. These specialized treatment services are goal-oriented and directed toward rehabilitation and modification of specific physical, emotional, mental, or social behaviors. Based upon their clinical experiences with patients, they provide input to the patients’ recovery care plan. Music Therapists create a safe, comfortable space for patients to come together and create music as a recovery tool. They effectively support personal treatment goals and socialization.

History at OSH

The music therapist’s academic studies follow closely those of the music education major for the first two years, but then branch off into the fields of abnormal psychology, biology, social work and finally hospital orientation. -”Music Therapy Class Offered at Willamette”, Statesman August 16, 1963

The Willamette University Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music society, started offering music therapy services at OSH as early as 1961. Willamette University launched a formal music therapy program in 1963. This program continues to be of great benefit to the patients​.

For more information on the educational pathway to this and other healthcare careers follow this Link to the Educational Resource page.

More Videos