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What is music therapy?

Music therapy is an interactive, primarily non-verbal intervention where music is used creatively in a therapeutic setting. It is based on the belief that all people can respond to music despite impairment or injury. Trained music therapists use live music-making to work towards the individual’s potential and to help facilitate and promote communication, relationships and learning.

The music created in the session is the primary means of communication between the client(s) and the therapist. Music therapists are trained musicians and learn to use their voice and instruments clinically to attune, reflect, meet, support, contain and challenge their clients in order to build a musical relationship with, or without the need for words. .

How it can help

The main aim of music therapy is to contribute and support the individual’s overall emotional well-being and to provide a space for them to explore their potential for creativity and self-expression. Through the relationship between client and therapist, therapeutic changes can be encouraged and worked towards

Aims are created according to the specific individual needs of the individual. Those who attend music therapy may benefit in the following ways:

  • Develop confidence and self-expression
  • Develop trust and awareness of the musical relationship
  • Encourage them to be involved in their surroundings
  • Acknowledge and work through their emotional needs
  • Encourage communication through non-verbal and verbal musical interaction
  • Develop their ability to be creative, imaginative and flexible in their response
  • Help reduce anxiety and improve concentration and memory
  • Aid speech development

Who it can help

Depending on the context and setting children can be referred by SENCOs, teachers, senior staff, GPs, parents, MTD (for example SLT). Reasons for referral may be a child with any of the following:

  • a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN, for example a diagnosis of ASD, cerebral palsy, Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder etc)
  • seeming isolated or withdrawn
  • refugees
  • selective mutism
  • speech and language delay
  • adoption
  • loss of a parent
  • developmental delay
  • lack of self-confidence
  • attachment disorder
  • emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • early trauma (PTSD)

Adults can self-refer or be referred by a relative, medical professional or therapist. Adults who may benefit might be experiencing or have experienced the following:

  • trauma
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • relationship difficulties