Music therapists are first trained as professional musicians. Embedding this training in the music school guarantees that candidates can fully develop their musical skills under the guidance of excellent musicians so that they are in line with the high requirements of a ‘Master in Music’.
The therapeutic and scientific training runs at two levels: students follow a package of psychology and psychiatry courses at the university and a clinical internship takes place within the academic framework of the University Psychiatric Centre KU Leuven (UPC). The music therapy department at UPC guides candidates during the final year of their training and guarantees that the therapeutic training conforms to the criteria for psychotherapeutic training. At the same time, students are supported in the initiation and development of scientific research.
In this way, the training achieves a unique synthesis between artistic and therapeutic professionalism. Courses are assessed for relevance within the whole package in which music, psychotherapy and science are harmoniously intertwined.
The first two years of the five-year course begin with a broad and general musical training. Alongside music courses, music therapy, psychiatry and psychotherapeutic courses are included in the curriculum. As of the third year, students begin their own psychotherapy and music therapy as a group. In five instrument courses (piano, guitar, percussion, voice and a melodic instrument of choice) the emphasis is laid on musical improvisation.
The second master year is almost entirely taken up with a clinical internship. Music therapy skills are progressively developed and students learn how to work as part of a multidisciplinary team. All these activities take place under the personal guidance of experienced clinical supervisors.
The graduate Master in Music Therapy goes on to work in psychiatric centres and institutions for the disabled. Some music therapists set up their own independent practices.