What is music therapy?
Music therapy is the applied use of music to affect positive change in others. Music therapy can address physical, emotional, cognitive (thinking and reasoning), and social needs. It is carried out by a trained professional who has undergone postgraduate training in music therapy. Like other allied health professions, it follows a process of assessment, intervention and evaluation. What differentiates music therapy from other forms of musical experience, such as community music, are the expertise of the music therapist, and the therapeutic relationship which develops between the therapist and the client. In music therapy, music becomes the vehicle through which change can occur. While there may be an end product, such as a song written by the client and therapist, the value of music therapy lies in the process of creating that song. Therapists use psychotherapeutic skills verbally, nonverbally and musically. For example, a therapist may reflect back how someone feels through saying, “You are feeling sad,” but can also respond to someone’s improvisation in a way that they feel heard and supported.
While music therapy is an evolving profession in Ireland, it is well established internationally, where music therapists are often key members of the multi-disciplinary team.
As music is a core component of our being, the skilled use of music can be a medium which reaches people where other interventions have failed.
Music therapy can benefit a range of client groups. I currently provide services to children with learning disabilities and autism, children and adolescents with social and emotional difficulties, people who have experienced a stroke, adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and to people with mental health needs. Click here to find out more.