Registration Information and Instructions

Table of Contents

Code of Ethics for the practice of music therapy in New Zealand

Music Therapy New Zealand endorses the following Code of Ethics, which has been approved by the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board.

The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to assist registered music therapists to establish and maintain standards of conduct and ethics in their practice, and to inform and protect those who seek their services. The code shall apply to all music therapists recognised as qualified by the Music Therapy New Zealand, and is relevant to students undertaking training in music therapy to qualify as a music therapist.

The Code of Ethics expresses the core ethical principles and guidelines for the responsible practice of music therapy, in a manner consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi and sensitive to the bi-cultural, multi-ethnic nature of New Zealand society. It gives due protection to the rights and interests of both clients and therapists. It acknowledges responsibilities to colleagues, employing bodies, and the wider community. It provides a framework for addressing ethical and practice-related issues as they arise.

Throughout this document, the term ‘client’ implies the client, including any research subject, and/ or the legal guardian, parent, family and whānau, or representative of that client.

Responsibilities to clients

The music therapist shall: 

(a) always act in the best interests of the client to promote wellbeing and protect the client’s legal rights;  in particular, the client has the right to information, physical, psychological and cultural safety, dignity, respect, protection, self-advocacy, privacy, confidentiality, and informed decision-making free from coercion; 

(b) work within the scope of practice as defined by the Standards of Practice for New Zealand Registered Music Therapists; 

(c) acknowledge their own cultural identity and be aware of how this may differ from the culture and values of their clients as well as issues of power and privilege;

(d) establish and maintain appropriate professional boundaries in the client-therapist relationship; 

(e) continually assess, with the client where possible, the appropriateness of the therapeutic aims and/or approach including when and how to bring the work to a close;

(f) observe all Aotearoa New Zealand legislation relevant to the client and workplace, including but not limited to human rights, the Treaty of Waitangi / Te Tiriti o Waitangi, health and disability, privacy, and health and safety;

(g) inform the client about music therapy and the role of the Registered Music Therapist, and negotiate/agree the purpose for the individual client;

(h) take into account client’s interests and wellbeing when offering music therapy services, recognising and addressing any conflicts of interest as required

(i) evaluate together with the client an appropriate time to close therapy.


Responsibilities to the Community and Employers

The music therapist shall:

(a) describe their qualifications and services accurately and appropriately in any advertisement or information; 

(b) disclose their registration and current annual practising certificate status with the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board;

(c) set fees which are fair and reasonable taking into account such things as maintenance of equipment, preparation time, professional development, supervision, and administration; 

(d) negotiate an appropriate contract with any employer or organisation, which clearly states the respective duties of each party; 

(e) inform an employer or organisation of any factors that may impact on effective service delivery to the client; 

(f) take responsibility for becoming familiar and keeping up to date with standards or legislation relevant to their employer, organisation and/or their practice.

Responsibilities to Professional Practice

The music therapist shall: 

(a) accept responsibility for maintaining and updating their level of competency as outlined in the Standards of Practice for Music Therapy in New Zealand;

(b) maintain continuing professional development and supervision as set out in the requirements of the NZ Music Therapy Registration Board for registration and the annual practising certificate;

(c) take responsibility for practising adequate self-care in order to work safely with a client.


Responsibilities to Colleagues and the Profession

The music therapist shall: 

(a) act with integrity, respect, and fairness towards colleagues, and other professionals; 

(b) conduct inter-collegial relationships in a professional manner;

(c) value collegiality and sharing of professional resources, knowledge, and research to broaden the skill and knowledge base of the profession; 

(d) not offer services to any client already working with another music therapist without consultation and agreement by both parties.

(e) work in a collegial relationship to support a particular client when agreed upon by all parties; 

(f) work effectively within a therapeutic team, informing, consulting and collaborating with team members and with family and whānau as appropriate; 

(g) identify any potential personal or professional conflict of interest which may arise in their practice, and disclose any conflict with clients, colleagues, employers or other relevant parties, to ensure that no disadvantage accrues to any party; 

(h) take appropriate action in relation to any colleague’s behaviour that could be judged as professional misconduct or unethical, including initial discussion with the colleague if possible; approaching their supervisor or employer if considered necessary; or in serious cases of music therapist misconduct initiating a formal complaints procedure through the NZ Music Therapy Registration Board; 

(i) respect the values and reputation of the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board and Music Therapy New Zealand and represent them only when authorised to do so. 

Privacy and confidentiality

The music therapist shall:

(a) obtain informed consent from clients prior to their participation / engagement in / receipt of (any) music therapy (services) ; 

(b) observe the conditions of the Privacy Act (1993), and any revisions to or replacement of this Act and respect the client’s right to privacy; 

(c) record information which is relevant only to client care and for which informed consent has been given; 

(d) maintain and dispose of records in a confidential manner, and in accordance with all relevant legislation and organisational policies and procedures;

(e) obtain informed consent from clients or their representatives before photographing, audio or video recording or documenting information about their clients; 

(f) obtain informed consent from clients when any information is used for teaching, research, publication or publicity; and take all reasonable steps to preserve anonymity, except where clients give consent or request to be named; 

(g) in the therapeutic context, share a client’s personal information only when necessary and (other than in exceptional circumstances) with their informed consent, for purposes such as multi-disciplinary collaboration, referral to another professional, or to minimise risk where the client is considered to be dangerous to themselves or others; such information shall be restricted to relevant client material; 

(h) ensure that any students, allied health professionals, volunteers or others observing or participating in a music therapy session are informed of the requirement to preserve the client’s privacy and (unless consent otherwise is given) anonymity; and where possible require a signed confidentiality agreement. 


Breaches of the code of ethics

Evidence of any violation of this Code of Ethics should be brought to the attention of the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board through their formal complaints procedure for consideration and resolution. 


This Code of Ethics shall be reviewed by the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board at five-yearly intervals or before if the need arises.

Please note: the term Registered Music Therapist refers to a New Zealand Registered Music Therapist.

Scope of practice

The following statement sets out the scope of practice for New Zealand Registered Music Therapists as determined by the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board.

General Scope of Practice: New Zealand Registered Music Therapist
Music therapy is the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimise their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing.

Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts. Http://

Registered Music Therapists shall practise within the scope of practice and their level of expertise and with due regard to Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ) and New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Music therapy practice is not confined to clinical practice and encompasses all roles that a Registered Music Therapist may undertake including client care, supervision, consultation, research, policy making and educating. In order to practise within the Registered Music Therapist scope of practice, the person will have an approved Masters level qualification in music therapy from a New Zealand University, or qualifications and experience assessed by the Board as equivalent.

Standards of practice for registered music therapists in New Zealand

The following standards define the minimum level of competence required for registration as a Registered Music Therapist with the New Zealand Music Therapy Registration Board and represent the minimum expectations for the competent practice of music therapy. There are four parts to the standards: clinical competencies; cultural competence; ethical and legal practice, and; reflective practice and continuing professional development.

A broad range of music therapy approaches may be acceptable. However, it is important that the approach used is congruent with the individual’s training and experience. The ability to demonstrate understanding of the theoretical framework that underpins the approach is important.

All Registered Music Therapists are required to demonstrate continuing competence through the completion of the Continuing Professional Development record and when applying for renewal of the Practising Certificate.

Clinical competencies

Musical Skills

1. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) be able to play at least one musical instrument to a high standard;
(b) have the musicianship skills and advanced knowledge of musical styles and idioms, including improvisation, which enable the therapist to facilitate appropriate creative music activities for clients within the music therapy context;
(c) be able to play and improvise music in a variety of styles and idioms;
(d) be able to use musical improvisation to interact and communicate with the client;
(e) have an awareness of the cultural context of musical styles and use them appropriately;
(f) be able to compose new musical material and adapt existing musical material; and
(g) be able to use their voice in a flexible and appropriate way to support and encourage clients (whether or not voice is the therapist’s principal study).

Therapeutic Relationship

2. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) be able to establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship;
(b) be able to use the therapeutic relationship safely to achieve therapeutic goals;
(c) understand the impact and limitations of the therapeutic relationship both in individual and group settings;
(d) demonstrate awareness of one’s own cultural background and the influence this may have on the therapeutic relationship, including awareness of personal life experiences, values, attitudes and beliefs;
(e) be able to stay attuned to self, client and context; and
(f) demonstrate awareness of core processes in therapeutic practice such as the therapeutic frame, transference and counter-transference and concepts from other therapeutic models.

Theory (General)

3. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) demonstrate sufficient knowledge about typical and atypical human development throughout the lifespan e.g. language and communication development, congenital and acquired disability;
(b) recognise and have critical understanding of methods of distinguishing between human health, sickness and disability including diagnosis, symptoms and treatment;
(c) know theories relevant to work with an individual;
(d) know theories relevant to group work; and
(e) demonstrate sufficient knowledge of major therapeutic approaches.

Theory (Music Therapy Specific)

4. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) have a critical understanding of music therapy theory, principles, methods and techniques;
(b) be able to apply music therapy theory, principles, methods and techniques to music therapy assessment, intervention and evaluation;
(c) know the purpose, intent and function of music therapy for various client populations;
(d) demonstrate sufficient knowledge of philosophical, psychological, physiological and sociological bases for the use of music as therapy;
(e) be aware of current theory and research, particularly in chosen area of practice; and
(f) understand relevant client conditions and the application of music as a treatment option.


5. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) know how to determine, source and apply appropriate music therapy assessment processes;
(b) be able to manage issues relating to client risk assessment and risk management in their clinical practice;
(c) have sufficient understanding of the aetiology of the disorders relevant to their working population;
(d) select and implement a range of music therapy methods for assessing client strengths and needs; and
(e) identify client needs through analysis of data gathered in music therapy and from other related sources.


6. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) be able to design, implement and evaluate music therapy programmes based upon assessment findings, in a range of settings;
(b) be able to use music therapy interventions suited to different stages of treatment;
(c) be able to monitor and modify music therapy interventions as appropriate to the client;
(d) be able to manage the therapeutic setting including boundaries of time and physical boundaries;
(e) be able to monitor the client’s progress and know when and how to conduct an appropriate ending process;
(f) be knowledgeable of the effects of prescribed medication and other drugs relevant to the current clients of the Registered Music Therapist and be able to work with clients who are using these medications; and
(g) be aware of emergency medical care plans in place for clients and understand appropriate course of action in case of an emergency.


7. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) be able to select or design and implement methods for evaluating and measuring client progress and the effectiveness of therapeutic strategies;
(b) be able to audit and review practice; and
(c) engage in reflective practice.


8. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) be able to use a range of communication skills flexibly and monitor their own ability to observe subtle, non-verbal client cues and to respond to these appropriately;
(b) be prepared to manage difficult situations and respond to unexpected client needs;
c) be skilled in written communication and able to provide articulate and substantive reports (appropriate to the context;
(d) be able to articulate and provide a rationale for their professional opinion;
(e) be aware of the importance and value of interdisciplinary communication and know when and how to initiate such communication; and
(f) demonstrate the ability to work in partnership with parents, carers and clients.

Cultural competence

9. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) seek to be informed about the meaning and implications of the Treaty of Waitangi for their practice;
(b) demonstrate understanding of the principles of protection, participation and partnership in their work with Māori;
(c) treat all persons with dignity and respect;
(d) demonstrate knowledge of and respect for diverse cultural backgrounds; and
(e) establish links with relevant cultural providers and communities where appropriate.

Ethical and legal practice

10. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) demonstrate the ability to establish and maintain a safe practice environment;
(b) be able to practice good self-care;
(c) be critically aware of the responsibility to gain ethical approval from the appropriate District Health Board or University Ethics Committee for any clinical research involving human participants;
(d) be critically aware of, and able to comply with, the ethical requirements of the Health & Disability Code of Rights and of the Code of Ethics for the practice of music therapy in New Zealand; and
(e) be critically aware of, and able to comply with, other relevant legislation, regulations and codes e.g. Health (Retention of Health Information) Regulations (1996), Health Information Privacy Code (1994), Mental Health (Compulsory assessment and treatment) Act (1992), New Zealand Human Rights Act (1993), New Zealand Disability Strategy (2000).

Reflective practice and continuing professional development

11. Registered Music Therapists must:
(a) have the ability to work independently whilst being able to consult with and accept guidance from a clinical supervisor and other appropriate people;
(b) be able to apply reflective practice towards ensuring continuing competence in all areas of practice;
(c) demonstrate critical self-awareness of strengths, abilities, attitudes and needs and articulate professional and personal development plans;
(d) engage in regular supervision and be able to use the supervisory relationship in such a way that it provides a place where difficulties, challenges and uncertainties can be shared, discussed and worked through such that the supervisory relationship provides a safety net for clients and therapist; and
(e) be committed to regularly updating, reviewing and documenting clinical knowledge and skills through a variety of professional development opportunities.


The following documents have been used as source material for the above Standards:
American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) Professional Competencies
The Australian Music Therapy Association Inc., (1996 (revised 2002/2004)). Competency standards in Music Therapy.
The Psychotherapists Board of Aotearoa New Zealand, (2010). Psychotherapist core clinical competencies.
Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand, (n.d). Competencies for registration as an Occupational Therapist.
The Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand, (2009). Physiotherapy competencies for physiotherapy practice in New Zealand.
Health Professions Council United Kingdom, (2007). Standards of proficiency: Arts therapists.

Notes to assist completing the application form for registration as a music therapist in New Zealand (F1)

Please read “Process and guidelines for registration and renewal of practising certificates including supervision and continuing professional development guidelines” on the Registration page of the MThNZ website:

1. Personal details

Ensure the address (physical and email) is where returned documents and notifications will reach you.
Date of Birth (D.O.B.) and Gender are required for statistical purposes. D.O.B. can be important for identical names on the register. The name given here will be printed on your certificate.

Membership: Music Therapy New Zealand: Registration does not give membership of MThNZ; there is a separate fee for this. Benefits of membership can be found at:

  • The annual NZ Journal of Music Therapy
  • Information about Music Therapy activities in NZ and Discounted registration at MThNZ-hosted events
  • Access to the Members Area
  • The opportunity to nominate and vote for members of the MThNZ Council which works to raise awareness and understanding of Music Therapy in order to advance the provision of Music Therapy to all who will benefit from these services
  • The opportunity to join a like-minded community of people and organisations who support Music Therapy in NZ
  • The option to join local regional groups

2. Formal qualifications relevant to music therapy

Currently accepted qualifications are:
Associate of the New Zealand Society for Music Therapy
Master of Music (Music Therapy), Victoria University of Wellington
Master of Music Therapy, New Zealand School of Music

For students graduating with the Master of Music Therapy a provisional registration certificate and provisional practising certificate will not be issued until a student has graduated and documentation provided to the Registration Board.


All courses approved by:
Australian Music Therapy Association, American Music Therapy Association, British Society for Music Therapy/Association of Professional Music Therapists
Other courses will be considered on their merits. Please include certified copies of all documentation to verify the qualifications. This includes a full transcript of the degree/diploma. If the qualification is from an institution outside NZ and, and is not listed above, then an equivalency statement from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority must be attached.

3. Other academic or professional qualifications

Any ‘qualifications’ you think are relevant. These do not have to be only ‘academic’ qualifications but could be professional recognition or awards; e.g. A Registered Music Teacher, a Registered Teacher, etc.
Include full supporting documentation.

4. Other information

Include relevant on-going experiences within the past four years, e.g. previous professional development, attendance at conferences, research in a relevant area, community music, musical experience and expertise, study and volunteer work. If necessary continue on a separate sheet.

5. Music therapy experience

Include relevant music therapy experience undertaken during training, and experience (if any) prior to and after training. The statement should include the years when this was done, number of hours involved and the type of work. Provide documentation where possible. Details in category B may become important if formal qualifications do not meet the required academic standard. The Registration Board will look at the full picture of an applicant’s qualifications and experience, including voluntary work, to determine whether registration should be granted and if so, what category of registration (‘full’ or ‘provisional’) is applicable. Add a separate statement if necessary.

6. Supervision

On-going supervision is an essential aspect of practice for NZ Registered Music Therapists. It is stated in the MThNZ Code of Ethics that the music therapist shall:
“Accept responsibility for maintaining and updating his or her level of competency through continuing professional development and supervision” AND “Undertake regular supervision with a qualified professional in order to safeguard the quality of service to clients.”

If it is not possible for your supervisor to sign the form, then please supply their contact details and, if possible, an email declaration from the supervisor to confirm the statement. A minimum of 10 hours supervision is required per year and details are submitted on a Supervision Log when applying for annual renewal of practising certificates.

7. Continuing professional development (CPD)

Ongoing CPD is another essential aspect of practice for NZ Registered Music Therapists. A minimum of 20 hours CPD is required per year and details are submitted when applying for annual renewal of practising certificates.

8. Referee

Provide the name and address of someone other than your supervisor who has agreed to provide a reference if requested by the Board.

9. Fee

Please refer to the MThNZ website ( for details of the current fee to accompany this application. In the event of the application being unsuccessful, no refund will be made.
Payment can be made online to the following bank account:
The New Zealand Society for Music Therapy Inc, Account number: 12-3140-0421783-00, Swift code: ASBBNZ2A
Please state your name and PC renewal as reference when making an online payment.

10. Declaration

Being declined registration in another profession – e.g. as a Registered Teacher – is not a bar to registration as a Music Therapist if the declining was due only to inadequate qualifications and training. If you have had a conviction for an offence – other than a minor traffic infringement – then you must declare it and if necessary you will be required to provide a statement from the police with the details. Attach a separate statement to explain any convictions.

There is no exact definition of what is an unacceptable medical condition. Applicants who feel this may be an issue should attach a letter to the application. If necessary it will be discussed with the Registration Board.

The Registration Board will decline any registration application if it is found that a full and frank disclosure has not been made. In the best interests of those people who require the services of a Registered Music Therapist, the register is an open document. The Registration Board reserves the right to confirm to a third party whether your name is on the register at any time and the expiry date of your current practising certificate. The Board will not disclose address or contact details.

The Registration Board may request that an applicant be required to have a personal audition and/or interview at their own expense before registration is granted.

11. Applicant's identification

This Section is required to be completed by a Solicitor or Justice of the Peace or with similar qualification.

Additional information

The closing date for all applications as a music therapist in New Zealand is 1 March each year.
The second round for new graduates and those with special circumstances will close on 1 August each year.

From 2020 the Board will have a further round for new registrations and renewal of practising certificates for special circumstances including graduates from the Master of Music Therapy course at Victoria University for provisional registration, registration from overseas music therapists, and renewal of practising certificates for those returning from paternal leave. This list is not exhaustive and there may be other special circumstances that would be considered.

The applicant shall apply in the usual way and provide a covering letter explaining why they are applying outside of the standard timeframe. If a Practising Certificate is provided, it will be for the part of the year remaining. However, the Board are very clear that this is not an opportunity for NZ RMThs to leave their renewal until this second round unless there is an exceptional circumstance. Practising certificates renewals are processed only at the 1 March deadline.

Notes on how to add an electronic signature and to save pdf documents

Electronic signature

1. Sign your name on a clean sheet of white paper
2. Take your mobile phone or a camera and take a photo
3. Save the photo to your computer (if not sure how to do this, contact me)
4. This will be in a format called “jpg”. You can leave in this format, or you can insert into a word document.
5. Open picture and check that it is a clear image. Sometimes you will have shadow that you didn’t realise when you took the photo. Take again until you have a good image.
6. Now you can use this image to insert into the application form. It will be larger than where you insert in the signature box. Click image and drag bottom right corner (arrow on an angle) into the size you need.
7. Or, if you want to insert into a word document. Open a blank word document, insert picture, and then make the image smaller by same method as above. When you use this method and want to insert your signature, you open the word document, right hand click and select “copy”, and then go to application form and at top of computer screen there is a “paste” button, click it. The advantage of this method is that the image will be smaller.

For another person, e.g. supervisor, send the document and ask them to insert their signature. Give them the above instructions if they are not sure how to do this. They will then save the document and send back to you.
8. You can send the completed document in the word format.
9. If you want to make into a PDF, which means the document will be smaller in size and cannot be altered (generally),
10. Go to Print and when the print box comes onto screen, look for the option where you select a printer. If you click on this box there is usually a “Print to PDF” option.
11. Print to PDF, and click print. It will not print, but open another box asking where you want to save the document. Save to your Music Therapy folder, and it is done.
12. Then send an email to the Registrar and attach the PDF document.

Printed copies to PDF

13. If you have printed the copies and want to save to PDF there is a great free APP called Adobe Scan. Go to App Store and download.
14. When you open the app, it opens in a camera page with various options: choose document.
15. Then take a picture of the individual page and it will show the document with borders around it. You can change these borders to fit the right size of the page. And if blurred or wrong, there is an option to “retake”.
16. At bottom right it says “continue”. Continue until all pages are photographed.
17. At the bottom right there is box of the pages with a number. If you have 10 pages it will show 10 – check you have the right number of pages. Then touch this box.
17. At the top of the screen it has given the document a name – I suggest you change this to the date and filename (e.g. 2020-02-20 PC Renewal) using the edit function (shown as a pen on screen).
18. When this is done, touch the button at the top right “Save PDF”.
19. This will bring up a screen with share link, email, share copy. I use Share a copy and this brings up a screen with options of how to send. If using email, choose this button (symbol) and then email to yourself.
20. When email is received, open and save to your Music Therapy folder, and send an email to the Registrar and attach the PDF document.

Another easy way is to save your document to a memory stick and take to an office stationery shop that does printing and copying. They will scan and create a PDF document for you. There will be a charge.

Any questions, please contact the Registrar because it really does help if your document is received with pages all in one direction and readable.

Responsibilities to Professional Practice