Music Therapy Rocks

Cathy Jackson, RMT-CNMT
Certified Neurologic Music


Why Music Therapy?     
    Music is a universal language that everyone can relate to and benefit from.  Music is fun, it stimulates all of the senses, and is a wonderful 'non-traditional' approach for all people. We use Music Therapy when the use of "traditional" therapies may be struggling to have the client meet their goals and objectives. 
Music Therapy is very Exciting!  It uses all parts of the brain; so if there are areas that are not working properly, music will re-route a new pathway in order to work toward the desired outcome.  For example:  a person who is unable to communicate verbally (talk), we use music to work with the stronger parts of the brain, in order for that person to begin making noises and eventually be able to talk- this is a great example for children with
developmental delays. Most clients (parents/guardians of children) will say that when nothing else has worked, once we began Music Therapy, the child started doing things that they have never done before (including physical, communication, and cognitive skills).  
    A Music Therapist will allow the client to explore millions of options, to meet the appropriate goals and objectives.

Who benefits from Music Therapy?
Music Therapists work with the following populations:

  • Early Intervention
  • Children and Adults with Disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (including Aspergers, Sensory Processing issues, etc.)
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Down Syndrome
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Clef lip/palate
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Geriatrics, Alzheimer's/Dementia
  • Music Therapy Assisted Child Birth
  • Terminally Ill (Hospice)
  • Cancer patients
  • NICU, Preemies
  • Psychiatric Disorders
  • Neurological rehabilitation needs
  • Pain management
  • Work with children/people with Sensory Processing issue (&/or OCD)
  • Stroke- including children having a stroke before or after birth
  • Visually and/or hearing impaired

    *these are also some examples of the areas that I work with, and/or have worked with in the past 25 years


Definition of Music Therapy?
    Music Therapy is an established health profession similar to occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy.  It consists of using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioral and/or social functioning.  Because music therapy is a powerful and non-threatening medium, unique outcomes are possible.  
    Music therapy also enhances the quality of life.  It involves relationships between a qualified therapist and child; between one child and another; between child and family; and between the music and the participants.  These relationships are structured and adapted through the elements of music to create a positive environment and set the occasion for successful growth.
(definition from American Music Therapy Assoc., Inc.)

 Depending on the needs of the client, some areas that the music therapist will address include relaxation, communication skills (sign language, speech, PECS-picture exchange communication system, augmentative communication), gross and fine motor skills, cognitive skills, sensory processing issues, and/or behavior issues.
10 Therapeutic Characteristics of Music Therapy
1.  Music captivates and maintains attention- it stimulates and utilizes many parts of the brain.  People often can respond to music even when other aspects of cognition are impaired.
2.  Music is success-oriented- people of all ability levels can participate.
3.  Music structures time; it allows us to track various lengths of time, and can sometimes alter our perception of its passage.
4.  Music provides a meaningful, enjoyable context for repetition.
5.  Music provides a social context- it sets up a safe, structured setting for verbal and nonverbal communication.
6.  Music is an effective memory aid.
7.  Music supports and encourages movement; in some cases, rhythm propels our muscles on a neural level.
8.  Music taps into memories and emotions.
9.  Music- and the silences within it- provide nonverbal, immediate feedback.
10.  Music can ebb and flow, changing moment to moment to reflect the reactions and needs of the people who are listening or participating.
(list from Prelude Music Therapy)

  Goals & Objectives:   Music is an effective therapeutic and educational tool, and is used in some of the following examples of measurable  goals and objectives:
  • working on communication skills- (improving verbal and non-verbal expressive language)-including the use of sign language, vocalization, increasing articulation, and the use of augmentative communication
  • increase gross and fine motor skills- including core strengthening
  • increase cognitive skills
  • Increasing receptive language/skills
  • Behavior- both working to decrease undesired behaviors, as well as increase desired behaviors (also using reinforcements)
  • Relaxation skills
  • Increase Social skills                                                                         
  • Increase Coping skills and Independence
  • Improving Quality of Life                                                                                                
  • Pain Management                                                                        
  • Rhythmic Activities
  • Provides structure                        



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