Hudson Valley Music Therapy Approach
"MUSIC IS PART OF BEING HUMAN." - DR. OLIVER SACKS
Music therapy uses the elements of music to create improvisation and personal soundscapes, fostering a strong social connection with the therapist and other individuals in the group.
Engagement itself is the intervening agent. Because music is so motivating, it is one of the best possible tools to create engagement.
The role of the music therapist is to engage a child's attention and imagination -- to "catch" them.
Some children on the autistic spectrum have severe delays in spoken language. Music therapy gives them an opportunity to express themselves in meaningful ways that don't require words or verbal skills.
Music engages the brain in sequencing, spatial organization, timing, pitch, and brings together many neurological components at once.
Studies have shown that engaging with rhythm and melody can improve brain function and other aspects of health. Music is nourishing to the mind.
Music therapy creates a context for socialization; despite any challenges in communication that a child may have, music and sound alone can be the vehicle to connecting to others.
Music has the power to connect people. Music allows people to communicate in ways that language cannot.
Music therapy addresses sensory motor skills, hand eye coordination, gripping, holding, tracking, reaching and more. Developments in these skills crosses over into other areas of the child's life.
But beyond the physical benefits, music therapy gives a foundation for having an experience of connection and expression at all. It will be a building block in social and emotional development.
WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
"Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplished individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." - American Music Therapy Association
Music therapy is about creating engagement and active participation while also addressing clinical goals that are specific to each child (such as improving speech and language, decreasing self-stimulating behaviors, etc.).
Prior experience with music is not required.
Music therapy is NOT putting headphones on a client for their passive listening, or mere entertainment by a live musician. Music therapy is also not a music class with requirements for performance or proficiency on an instrument.
Music therapy IS the practice of using the scientifically-proven power of music to create an enlivening avenue for personal achievement of clinical goals (psychological, psycho-somatic, gross and fine motor).
Music therapy is also a proven method for stress reduction, improving social skills, creative self-expression and developmental steps toward communication and relationships.
WHAT IS A MUSIC THERAPIST? WHAT ARE THE PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS OF A MUSIC THERAPIST?
Music therapy involves clinical goals that are assesed by a clinician with a Masters Degree in music therapy and a minimum of Board Certification. Any music therapist with these qualifications has demonstrated professional capacity as both a musician and a pyschotherapist (as defined by the state law of many states in the USA). The LCAT (Licensed Creative Arts Therapist) is the highest credential and is recognized by many health insurance plans. The LCAT gains licensure through an intensive process of professional work with supervision, post graduate and board certification.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MUSIC THERAPY AND MUSIC LESSONS?
The objective of music therapy is not about teaching someone to play an instrument. In the instance of a musically gifted and capable child, the therapist may decide that learning an instrument could be part of the therapeutic process.
However, the fundamental goal of music therapy is not to achieve proficiency in music. The goal is to address the clinical needs of clients using music interventions.
CAN MY CHILD RECEIVE MUSIC THERAPY IF HE/SHE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT?
Yes. Music therapy does not require any proficiency in any instrument. It doesn't even require the ability to sing or vocalize.
IF THE CHILD IS NOT DOING ANYTHING ACTIVE AND APPEARS TO ONLY BE LISTENING, IS THAT STILL THERAPEUTIC?
Sometimes it is more helpful to focus on what is NOT happening. Is a child more regulated? Is the child demonstrating more curiosity and attending behaviors? Perhaps the child is simply listening.
Sometimes a child needs more time to integrate the melodies and rhythms that the therapist is using to make imprints and draw out creative and active engagement in the music. Allowing a child time to respond is a key step in building a therapeutic relationship.
HOW HOW LONG SHOULD MUSIC THERAPY SESSIONS BE?
In many school settings for children on the autistic spectrum, classes and activities revolve on 30 minute sessions. In music therapy, 30-45 minutes is a more of an optimal length of time for the child to drop into creative play and to absorb the sounds, melodies, songs, rhythms, improvisations and experiences. The length of a session also depends on the needs of the child.