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Music Therapist

My name is Wook se Cho and I have been working as a music therapist for HPFT since 2009. I am a member of the Arts Therapies Team which consists of 6 part-time therapists offering music therapy, art psychotherapy and dramatherapy.

A day in the life of a Music Therapist

A typical working day consists of facilitating up to 3 music therapy sessions a day, setting up for each session, tidying up afterwards and writing case notes. The vast majority of music therapy sessions are of an individual nature but when the need is identified group therapy is also offered. I also attend bi-weekly alternate arts therapies team meetings and peer supervision sessions which would then be followed by the team ‘allocations meeting’ where we discuss the new referrals as well as any updates or actions with regard to the service users open to the department and on the waiting list. In between music therapy sessions and such meetings I would also frequently make phone calls or write letters to the service users, their carers or parents, to arrange sessions or meetings or to make any inquiries about the service users. Where required and possible I would also arrange/attend multi-disciplinary team meetings for service users I am involved in working with or for the service users on our waiting list.

What do you enjoy most about being a Music Therapist?

What I enjoy the most about being a music therapist is being in the room with a service user and playing music together. At times there are truly magical moments that take place in the sessions where I can witness a real significant change in how a service user plays suggesting personal development in line with agreed clinical aims. Such moments are what I enjoy the most about being a music therapist.


The challenges are dealing with the ever-increasing administrative work we need to do for each service user that we are involved with. Whilst I understand that some of this may be necessary, I feel that at times it can get in the way of being able to actually see the service users on our waiting list. The Arts Therapies Department is a small resource within the LD Services and demand for this type of therapy is at times high.


I get regular managerial supervision sessions with my line manager every 4-6 weeks, where I can address any issues to do with the day to day aspects of my job. I also have monthly clinical supervisions where I can address any issues or difficulties to do with my clinical work. Finally, we also have monthly peer supervision sessions where we can discuss any issues or difficulties in our clinical work with the other members of the arts therapies team.

Key skills and knowledge

One of the key skills required for my role is of course proficient musical skill on the chosen instrument. But maybe more important than the technical skill on the instrument is the openness and the willingness to listen to the service user’s music and to engage in playing and interacting with it to develop a musical dialogue for the purposes of clinical and personal development. I would say that another important skill is being able to be flexible in using music with the service users and to be able to ‘improvise’, both musically and in other ways when interacting with the service users.

Another important skill for my role is being able to reflect on the experience of being with a service user and making sense of the feelings that might be around, especially when the service user finds it difficult to do this him/herself or is unable to communicate verbally.

Lastly, I feel perhaps the most important quality needed to do the role of a music therapist is having the emotional resilience to deal with potentially distressing, difficult and complex material in the sessions and an ability to look after oneself to not become overwhelmed and burnt out by the potentially stressful nature of the job.

Future opportunities

My role could lead to offering placements to music therapy trainees where I would also offer them clinical supervision. There are also other opportunities in terms of possibly going into research (PhD), as well as teaching on courses for trainees.

What's your advice to others interested in becoming a Music Therapist?

My advice would be to go for it but also to get as much experience as you can working with the service user group that you are interested in working with.