When words are not enough…Music therapy for children with social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the skilled application of music to promote positive change and personal growth. It is carried out by a trained professional who uses music, and the relationship between the therapist and the client, to achieve therapeutic aims. Music therapy gives the person a space in which they are accepted for the unique individual that they are. From this safe space, the person has the opportunity to grow and develop in many ways.

For children who are experiencing social, emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, music therapy can be one way to connect with the child and work to meet their individual needs.  These goals may include those addressed by other ‘talking therapies’ but music therapy, like art therapy, and play therapy, have the advantage in that they use other creative media as a way to connect with a child. While words have a role to play within these therapies, progress in therapy is not dependent on what is said…or unsaid.

Music therapy sessions with children can vary hugely depending on the needs of the child, his or her interests, and the path that therapy takes. Music therapy is a journey, and while there is an ultimate destination, it is on the journey itself where change can occurs.

What happens in a music therapy session?
While this can vary depending on the needs of the individual, a session can include any of the following:

  • Improvising music, using musical instruments and/or the voice
  • Playing pre-composed music
  • Song writing
  • Listening to music
  • Moving to music

No musical skill is required for a child to benefit from music therapy.

 Where can I find out more?

For more information about music therapy, go to:

Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists  or British Association of Music Therapy

For information about art therapy and drama therapy, contact the Irish Association of Creative

Arts Therapists

For information on play therapy, contact Irish Play Therapy Association or Play Therapy

Ireland.