CAMT Blogpost

In 2020, the Canadian Association of Music Therapists hired its first Executive Director, Jennifer Buchanan, MBA, MTA.


To highlight the CAMT, an organizational member in the North American Region of the World Federation of Music Therapy and the host organization for the 2023 World Congress, we reached out to Jennifer with a few questions. We hope you enjoy reading her answers and learning more about music therapy in Canada.


1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to apply for and accept the position of Executive Director for the Canadian Association of Music Therapists.

I have been a certified music therapist for over 30 years. I can't remember a time when I ever thought of doing anything else. I am fortunate to be able to express my work in diverse ways including owning a music therapy private practice that employs staff with benefits and contractors; practicing as a clinician in corrections, mental health and palliative care settings; speaking to large and small audiences on the benefits of music and music therapy in corporate, education and healthcare settings; writing books for the general public and health entrepreneurs; and since 2020 being the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT) working with three exciting strategic priorities that will benefit Canadian Music Therapists (MTAs).

The three priorities are:

  1. to build a high-performance organizational culture – by strengthening governance, organizational and decision-making structures.
  2. to increase organizational sustainability by implementing a sustainability strategy for increasing revenue.
  3. to expand organizational outreach by creating a high-impact strategic communications strategy.


2) Please provide a brief description of music therapy in Canada (what stands out as unique from other parts of the world).

There is no question that music therapy looks more similar than different throughout the world. What may be unique in Canada is what is unique for most sectors in Canada - we are REALLY spread out. Taking a flight from East to West can easily take 6.5 - 7 hours. We are surrounded by three oceans and have six time zones, being the second-largest country on earth. We have 550 ports, a national railway and 18 airports - so although we are spread out we also have access to one another from coast to coast to coast. Canada also has two official languages and the CAMT is pleased to offer all member services in both French and English.

Our professional designation is MTA - Certified Music Therapist. This means that the individual:

  • is a member of CAMT in good standing
  • has successfully completed a minimum bachelor of music therapy degree at a CAMT recognized institution
  • has completed a 1000 hour clinical internship under the supervision of a CAMT Approved MTA Supervisor
  • has passed the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) exam administered in the USA
  • has signed a Statement of Adherence to the CAMT Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice


3) What are some challenges that music therapists and the field of music therapy face in Canada?

With under 1000 certified music therapists working in Canada, we continue to work towards our greatest challenge, ensuring there are enough jobs for graduates, including union positions, staffed positions with benefits and resources to establish a strong private practice.

This is no easy task and takes the collaboration of all stakeholders - education programs, provincial associations, regulatory bodies, our partners, each and every CAMT member, as well as, our national organization with its certification process, professional guidelines, standards of practice and code of ethics.


4) What are some exciting developments in the field of music therapy in Canada?

Despite the pandemic, CAMT has moved forward on some key initiatives including the hiring of their first Executive Director (I feel grateful and honoured), transitioned to an Open-Source Journal, elected our first DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Chair, and said yes to hosting the World Congress in 2023.


5) As the current ED, what is your vision for the CAMT in the near future? and what is your vision for music therapy in Canada in the near future?

Over the last 18 months, we have worked as a team (governance and operations) and have grown and automated many of our systems by adopting new software and processes to engage in an action plan directly connected to our strategic priorities. We still have much to do but feel confident in the frame we are using to keep moving forward.


6) Please describe how you see the role of CAMT in the global music therapy community.

As we prepare for the World Congress in 2023 we see our role as 'host.' Our operations team have just returned from spending a week in Vancouver working with the professional congress organizer and planning committee to ensure that all attendees (in-person or online) will have the best experience possible. We look forward to a diverse, accessible and deeply engaging congress that will bring music therapists together and help elevate our profession throughout the world.


7) What else would you like us to know about you, the CAMT, or music therapy in Canada?

We know we are not alone and that music therapy organizations around the globe are innovating and adapting in order to support their members through challenges, while celebrating the small steps that we continue to make. This feeling of 'belonging' helps during moments like these. We are grateful to belong to something bigger than ourselves.