Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy and how it can help you

Music therapy is appropriate for all ages (Infants, children, adolescents, adults, elderly and end of life) and all abilities, strengths and challenges. Previous music experience is not necessary.

Official definition:

Music Therapy New Zealand describe music therapy as “the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and well-being. Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts.”

What happens in a music therapy session:

Music can be used in various ways to help people. In music therapy, music is made by each person in the session. No matter what one’s physical, psychological or cognitive abilities the music therapist and client can experience and create music together. The music created can be of a familiar or improvised (created in the moment) nature and the client can be actively or passively involved.

Music therapy approach:

My approach is client centered and creative music therapy based. I focus on the strengths of the client so they are able to contribute to music making in whichever way comfortable. No previous music experience is necessary. The session does not seek to help teach instrument technique, but facilitate a shared experience in creating music. In doing so a therapeutic relationship is formed. It is through the creation of music and the therapeutic relationship that the therapeutic goals can be addressed. Subsequently improving or maintaining health and quality of life for the client.

Music therapy aims not to cure but support people in their areas of life which may present a challenge.

An example; Referral and music therapy progress:

One client I worked with was  referred to music therapy because the client became highly anxious when there was a change in routine or when meeting new people. The client would isolate himself or call out/cry/stream to show his anxiety and dislike for the current situation. In music therapy, initially, the client appeared to find it difficult to be in the room with me for even 10 minutes and during this time our ability to interact was limited due to the client’s screaming and crying. However, there were some songs that and client appeared to enjoy and furthermore become focused and interactive in. As our sessions continued these familiar songs continued to be requested and adapted to our environment and personal characteristics. We began to interact and communicate more with one another, through turn taking and using expression, and shared humor in the music we created together. As our relationship developed  through music making the client appeared motivated to stay in the room for the full session and without support from a family member or carer. I was then able to begin adjusting the session routine and challenging the client to engage in new songs and improvised music making. The client learnt to manage and adapt to new situations in the music therapy session and allow for events that happen spontaneously.

Benefits experienced from music therapy range from:

  • Develop communication
  • Facilitate self-expression and build confidence
  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Encourage social interaction
  • Motivate movement and physical co-ordination
  • Extend language
  • Promote memory and intellectual development
  • Help people manage anger and build relationships
  • Support people through times of crisis and change
  • Support emotional and spiritual growth
  • Reduce agitation
  • Help control pain