What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is the use of music and words in clinical, educational and social situations to treat people with medical, educational, social or psychological needs. Music-making forms the basis for communication in this relationship. When verbal communication is difficult or seems impossible, music therapy can help. The ability to respond to music is innate in all of us and music can support the development of mental processes. Music therapy can be provided for as individual sessions or group sessions. Only fully qualified music therapists who are certified by the Health Professions Council may practice music therapy.
What Happens in a Session?
Generally, students and therapist all take an active role in playing, singing and listening in the sessions. The therapist may take a person-centred approach to treatment or use a more directive approach and adapts different ways of working to meet each individual’s needs. In some situations it may be useful to use musical games or familiar songs to elicit interaction or creativity in the sessions. In others, it may be more helpful to improvise freely, allowing the student the opportunity for freer expression and to draw on the full resources of his/her personality. Music therapy may involve the making of a CD or audio recording.
Do I Need to be Able to Play a Musical Instrument?
There is no requirement for the student to have any musical experience or skill. He or she is encouraged to explore the world of sound and create a language of his or her own. The therapist responds musically to support and encourage this process.
The music played covers a wide range of styles to complement the individual needs of each student.
What’s the Overall Process?
The process of music therapy involves assessment, treatment, evaluation and review. This process aims to provide the best possible care for each individual by identifying an individual’s needs and evaluating his or her progress as well as the effectiveness of music therapy in satisfying the student’s needs and providing a high standard of care and value. For some, it may be appropriate to have a short treatment and for others, a longer period may be needed depending on the individual’s needs and difficulties.
Who Can Benefit from Music Therapy?
Music therapy can help students with:
Special needs, verbal and non-verbal
Mild-to-severe learning difficulties, in particular Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Emotional and behavioural problems
Problems at school or home
Where can you find Music Therapy?
Music therapy may be practiced in schools, hospitals, day centres, residential settings and private practices. Music therapy takes place in the same room at the same time each week. This helps provide reliability and stability for the students, which helps to foster trust in the relationship.
How Can Music Therapy Help students with Special Needs?
Children with special needs often experience great difficulty in communication and expression. Through musical play and the therapeutic relationship, the student will be able to express feelings and words without having to use words. Music therapy provides a safe space in which the therapist may promote the child’s development through play. Through music therapy children can learn to express difficult feelings in constructive ways. Music therapy may be used to increase self-awareness, improve self-esteem, reduce feelings of isolation and promote well-being and social interaction. Group music therapy is an excellent process for developing social skills in a fun and supportive environment. A music therapist may also help facilitate development in the relationship between parent and child by supporting the family in an encouraging and non-judgemental manner.