An Explorative Study Examining Augmentative and Alternative Communication Training in the Field of Music Therapy

J Music Ther. 2017 Jul 1;54(2):228-250. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thx004.


Background: Music therapists work with many people who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). As communication goals are central to music therapy practice, many music therapists would benefit from training in AAC.

Objective: The purpose of this survey study was to determine the state of AAC education for music therapists at the university level, how AAC is being used in music therapy sessions, and how practicing music therapists are trained in AAC.

Methods: Music therapy faculty and credentialed music therapists in North America and Europe were invited to complete an online survey. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze survey data from each group of respondents.

Results: With regard to training in AAC at the university level, results indicate that almost half of music therapy faculty (44.66%) provided some training. The primary reason given for not providing training was a lack of educator knowledge in this area. Results indicate that a majority (81.77%) of music therapy clinicians are familiar with AAC and slightly over half (55.08%) reported that they work with clients who use AAC. Sixty-two percent of music therapists reported using AAC to promote expressive language, and 49% to increase receptive language. Over 80% of clinicians stated they would benefit from additional AAC training.

Conclusions: Although a majority of music therapists are familiar with ACC, results indicate that ACC competency could be enhanced through university-level instruction and continuing professional development courses.

Keywords: Augmentative and Alternative Communication; communication; education; music therapy; training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication Aids for Disabled
  • Communication*
  • Europe
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Music Therapy*
  • North America
  • Surveys and Questionnaires