By Richard Noble

I met music therapist Amanda Neira this weekend. She is the first music therapist in the valley and a breath of fresh air. She was born and raised in Iowa. She went to Western Illinois University where she majored in Music Therapy.

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

She completed her 1200 clinical hour training (internship) at Oasis Rehabilitation Center in Indio California. She passed her music therapy board exam in March of 2012. She fell in love with the desert while she was here but was not able to stay due to the fact that there are no music therapists in the valley, so no music therapy jobs.


She decided to move back to the Midwest and attend Maryville University in St. Louis, MO where she completed her Masters in Music Therapy in May of 2014. She was able to start Coachella Valley Music Therapy part time in October of 2014 and moved here to work it full time in July.

She is an advocator for music therapy and always tries to educate people on the fact that music therapy isn’t just singing songs to people! As I am sure you understand! It is an evidence based practice that is recognized as an allied health profession.

As a drug and alcohol counselor, I listened to her as she explained song writing, notes and chords and different tempos and instruments that have the power to provoke traumatic memories and the process of lyric writing and song singing to aid in healing as a music therapeutic process.

Musical TherapyAmanda also treats children with autism, older adults with strokes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.” –American Music Therapy Association

We welcome Amanda to the desert and hope she finds her place in treating addictions and those with mental health concerns and know she’ll be a vital asset to our community.

You may reach Amanda by phone and visit her website today.

Amanda Neira MMT, MT-BC
Coachella Valley Music Therapy
(760) 393-1029