AMTA's purpose is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. Predecessors, unified in 1998, included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971. AMTA is committed to the advancement of education, training, professional standards, credentials, and research in support of the music therapy profession.
AMTA is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors which consists of both elected and appointed officers. Board meetings are held two or three times each year. Policies are set by an Assembly of Delegates consisting of representatives from each of the Association's seven regional chapters. Fourteen standing committees represent the areas of: Academic Program Approval, Internship Approval, Continuing Education, Government Relations, Reimbursement, Research, Clinical Practice, Communication and Technology, Affiliate Relations, Workforce Development and Retention, International Relations, Membership, Professional Advocacy, and Special Target Populations.
Membership in AMTA consists of nine categories: professional, associate, student, inactive, retired, affiliate, patron, life, and honorary life. Over 3,800 individuals hold current AMTA membership.
A separate, independent organization, known as the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), certifies music therapists. CBMT administers a national music therapy certification examination which is officially recognized by the National Commission on Certifying Agencies. The examination measures the individual's skills, knowledge, and ability to engage in professional music therapy practice. Qualified individuals who pass the national music therapy certification examination earn the credential, music therapist, board certified, or MT-BC. The National Music Therapy Registry (NMTR) serves qualified music therapy professionals with the following designations: RMT, CMT, ACMT. These individuals have met accepted educational and clinical training standards and are qualified to practice music therapy.