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. From American Music Therapy Association (2013)
What does music therapy involve?
To begin, your music therapist will assess your strengths and needs in multiple areas of functioning including: your emotional well-being, your physical health, your social functioning, communication skills, and cognition. This is all done through the use of music and musical tools. However, you do not need any musical ability to participate. Then based on your needs, music therapy sessions are designed to target your specific goals for wellness and functioning. During music therapy sessions, you will have the opportunity to engage with the music therapist using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance and more. Music therapy treatment plans are designed specific to your needs but can be implemented in group or individual settings.
What are some common music therapy goals?
- Increase communication, even for those who find it difficult to express themselves using words.
- Physical rehabilitation for learning new or lost skills like walking, stepping, gross and fine motor movement.
- Provide emotional support and creative outlet for families and loved ones during trauma, emotional distress, loss and bereavement.
- Increasing self-awareness and expression of emotion.
Who can benefit from music therapy?
People of all ages and abilities can benefit from music therapy. This includes: infants, children, adolescents, adults, the elderly and their caregivers. Music is a whole brain, whole body experience. Therefore, even those with the lower levels of verbal and auditory skills can still participate and benefit. Skills and strengths gained in music therapy sessions are transferred to many other areas of life, providing great therapeutic benefit across the lifespan.
What needs can music therapy help address?
During music therapy treatment, music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Specific mental health needs including anxiety, depression, personal identity issues and grief can be addressed with the addition of music wellness routines. Individuals living with developmental and learning disabilities can benefit from the holistic approaches of music therapy that target both developmental goals like attention and communication but also encourage appropriate social interactions, awareness and self-expression. Families who care for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s and other aging related conditions can benefit from the routine and opportunity for reminiscence that music therapy provides. Even those expecting babies or living with very young infants can benefit from music therapy treatment for bonding, healing and optimal development.