Music therapy and COVID-19

COVID-19 and Music Therapists’ Employment, Service Delivery, Perceived Stress, and Hope: A Descriptive Study

Amidst rapid societal shifts, researchers from Colorado State University examined changes to the field of music therapy associated with the COVID-19 period. After a global pandemic was confirmed by the World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 following spread of a novel coronavirus, healthcare workers across the country, including music therapists, experienced alterations in employment, service delivery, and emotional states. In the first known study to describe the impact of COVID-19 on music therapy, Gaddy et al. (2020) surveyed over 1,000 music therapists from across the country. The email survey tool consisted of 51 items, including measures for demographic information, employment status, methods of session facilitation, and feelings of hope and stress. Data outcomes revealed 70% of music therapists reported changes to their work, with most transitioning to remote teletherapy facilitation from their homes and others switching to use of pre-recorded songs and/or sessions. Group services saw a 14% decline from the pre-pandemic period. Analysis of survey responses further indicated that music therapists working in private practices and school settings experienced largest reductions in client contact hours and the most significant changes in income. Contrastingly, a majority of those employed in universities and medical or mental health settings maintained pre-pandemic income levels. In exploring current mental/emotional states, Gaddy et al. (2020) notably found 87% of survey participants reported feeling hopeful about the music therapy profession during the COVID-19 period. In open-ended responses, music therapists cited themes of opportunities for growth of the field and the resilience of its members. Respondents discussed benefits of telehealth likely to continue after this period, including its increase of access to services for those who live in remote locations or are not able to travel to clinics for in-person treatment. Reports of hope coexisted with moderate stress scores, with survey participants equally reporting concerns over contracting or transmitting the virus to others, being distanced from loved ones, and experiencing a reduction of income. Overall, authors suggested study results highlighted the far-reaching impact of the pandemic and the adaptability of the field and its service providers.


Gaddy, S., Gallardo, R., McCluskey, S., Moore, L., Peuser, A., Rotert, R., Stypulkoski, C., & LaGasse, A., B. (2020). COVID-19 and music therapists’ employment, service delivery, perceived stress, and hope: A descriptive study. Music Therapy Perspectives, 38(2), 157-166doi:10.1093/mtp/miaa018