Music is a natural part of daily life. It is familiar, motivating, challenging, and nonthreatening. It is pervasive and yet non-invasive, flexible while being structured. Music draws people together, creating a space in which it is safe to experiment and express oneself.
“Music Therapy is a discipline in which Certified Music Therapists (MTAs) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being. Music therapists use music safely and ethically to address human needs within cognitive, communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.”
Canadian Association of Music Therapists: 2020
For more information, check out www.musictherapy.ca.
Potential Music Therapy Goal Areas
Music therapists use music-based interventions and the therapeutic relationship to work towards non-musical goals. The overriding goal of Music Therapy is to improve quality of life and promote wellness. Within that framework, there is a wide variety of domains that Music Therapy can be used to address, including the following:
- Social: attention span, engagement, confidence, independence, active listening, turn taking, following directions, positive social connections, teamwork, making choices, and leadership skills
- Communication: self-expression, vocabulary, speech, learning English, using Alternative and Augmentative Communication, and receptive communication skills
- Motor: body awareness, fine and gross motor skills, range of motion/flexibility, muscle tone/strength, breath capacity, endurance, coordination, and perceptual motor functioning
- Emotional: self-expression, creativity/imagination, emotional awareness, self-regulation, impulse control, dealing with anxiety, coping skills, problem solving, and perspective taking
- Academic: spelling, reading/comprehension, writing, math, critical thinking, memory, and basic school concepts
- Other: sensory processing/regulation, leisure skills, pain management, relaxation, executive functioning, and self-care skills
A music therapist can also collaborate with other members of a client’s support team to increase consistency and encourage the generalization of skills across contexts.
Music Therapy with Children with Disabilities
Note: The RMT credential in Australia is equivalent to the MTA credential in Canada.
Where Do Music Therapists Work
Individuals of various ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds can benefit from Music Therapy. Music therapists work in many different locations such as:
- Medical hospitals
- Day programs for adults or children
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Personal care homes
- Mental health facilities
- Hospice and palliative care programs
- Residences for individuals with developmental disabilities
- Correctional facilities
- Private practice/consultation
Referrals for Music Therapy may be made by other professionals such as physicians, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and teachers. Clients may also choose to pursue Music Therapy through parental or self-referral.
TEDx Conference November 2015
In this video, Erin Seibert MT-BC, gives a phenomenal presentation about Music Therapy that is both accessible and informative. I highly recommend taking seventeen minutes to watch it.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions or are interested in setting up Music Therapy programming.