Music Therapy Empowers Those With Disabilities to Reach Goals

According to the American Music Therapy Association, “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. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in a wide variety of healthcare and educational settings.”

In layman’s terms, music therapy, provided by music therapists, uses music to help others reach non-musical goals. Music therapists go into schools, hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, and even family homes to do such things as:

• Improve communication

• Develop motor skills

• Manage stress

• Increase self-expression

• Enhance learning

• Promote social skills

• Improve daily living skills

• Assist memory recall

My younger son began music therapy in 2005. One of his first goals was to differentiate between the “ch” and “sh” sounds. His therapist wrote a song about a “choo choo” train, which went “chugga chugga”. Through singing the song, my son learned “ch” sound and how it was different from “sh”. He has also learned to “breathe in… out… in… out… to calm down” when he’s upset.

My older son began music therapy in 2010. With his therapist, he has written songs to express his feelings and tell his story. He has destressed and improved his communication through his writing. He and his therapist recorded their song on CD. He felt a sense of accomplishment as he proudly shared the music.

Other clients play instruments to improve their motor skills or sing songs to work on speech therapy goals. Clients might learn to follow directions by following the directions sung by the therapist. Another goal may be to learn “volume control” and practice singing softly and loudly.

Music therapy is a fun way to reach important goals and learn crucial life skills.