Music Therapy in the UK

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Music therapy has been used as a treatment program for many patients in the United Kingdom over the past century, including in the recovery treatment for soldiers are both World Wars. It continues to be used today and has an impact on hundreds of patients every day. The wide use of music therapy in the UK began in the 1960s, brought about by Juliette Alvin, a French cellist, and has since grown considerably.

Music Therapy in Practice

Music therapy is distinct from many other treatments in use and has strong potential for use in the promotion of health and wellbeing of patients. It has been linked to improved communication, positive change and enhanced creativity. It has a role to play in healthcare services in various settings, including in:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centres
  • Specialist centres
  • Residential care homes
  • Child development and daycare centres
  • Schools
  • Prisons
  • Community spaces
  • Homes

Individuals in each of these places may benefit from the use of music therapy as a part of their treatment plan.


Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins developed the Nordoff-Robbins approach to music therapy in the 1950s and 1960s, which emphasized that all individuals could respond to music despite illness or disability.

The main headquarters for the Nordoff-Robbins music therapy is currently based in London, and there are several centres throughout the United Kingdom. There are also training programs available at the London headquarters for practitioners learning to use music therapy as a treatment method.

Music Therapists

Individuals well suited to being a music therapist can demonstrate a high level of musicianship and have good personal skills.

In order to practice as a music therapist in the UK, professional training at a postgraduate level is required, and therapist must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC).

There are a number of programs that offer training programs for people wishing to become a music therapist. These include programs at the:

  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Guildhall School of Music & Drama
  • Nordoff-Robbins
  • Queen Margaret University
  • University of Roehampton
  • University of South Wales
  • University of the West of England

Upon completion of one of these recognized programs for music therapy, graduates are eligible for registration with HCPC and the British Association of Music Therapy (BAMT).

Voluntary Help

In addition to professionally trained music therapists, some individuals in the UK are passionate about music therapy and volunteer their time to contribute music skills.

There are charity organisations that are set up to help fund this endeavor and allow individuals to connect with other musicians and help in the treatment of patients with music.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2018

Susan Chow

Written by

Susan Chow

Susan holds a Ph.D in cell and molecular biology from Dartmouth College in the United States and is also a certified editor in the life sciences (ELS). She worked in a diabetes research lab for many years before becoming a medical and scientific writer. Susan loves to write about all aspects of science and medicine but is particularly passionate about sharing advances in cancer therapies. Outside of work, Susan enjoys reading, spending time at the lake, and watching her sons play sports.


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