Music Therapy 101
Guest Blog Contributed By: Alyssa Stone, MT-BC, NMT from Dynamic Lynks
Music Therapy week just passed here in Illinois, and we know many families are curious how music therapy can benefit their children! The most incredible thing about music therapy is the mixture of magic and science when a child gets tomake music to reach their therapeutic goals. We have fun, we move, we explore, and we do it all through music to achieve lasting, functional change based around our clients’ strengths and areas of need.
WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?
“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.”
There are a lot of assumptions about what music therapy is. People often say to me “that makes sense, music is very therapeutic.” While yes, music listening can be extremely therapeutic, a music therapist actively uses music to facilitate functional change in goal areas that have nothing to do with music. In music therapy sessions and groups at Dynamic Lynks, we often work on speech/language, cognitive, sensorimotor, regulation, attention, executive functions, and social/emotional skills. We use specific, evidence-based techniques to reach goals in these clinical domains. There is a vast amount of music therapy research currently in circulation, and we use these evidence-based practices to guide our work every day.
THE HISTORY OF MUSIC THERAPY
“The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century profession formally began after World War I and World War II when community musicians went to Veterans hospitals to play for veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars."
Most people don’t realize how long music therapy has been around. In 1789, Music Therapy was sited in an article titled “Music Physically Considered” and thatis considered the first publication of music therapy. The idea of music as a therapeutic medium grew throughout the 1900’s and gained popularity in the 1940’s when patients in Veterans hospitals saw notable change in both their physical and emotional well-being when working with the musicians visiting them. As the need for music as therapy grew, the first Music Therapy program was established in 1944 at Michigan State University.
BECOMING A MUSIC THERAPIST
It takes a lot of time and studying to become a music therapist. Currently, music therapists are required to have a bachelor’s degree in music therapy. This means four years of undergraduate course work in music therapy, accompanied by a minimum of 4 clinical practicums under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist. After finishing 4 years of college, you complete a clinical internship that totals 1,200 hours. To become a practicing music therapist, you must successfully complete the Certification Board for Music Therapists’ exam. Please always look for the certification MT-BC when hiring a music therapist. You can visit www.cbmt.org to find a music therapist near you that holds this credential! This means they have completed all of these critical steps to become a board-certified music therapist.
TYPES OF MUSIC THERAPY
Just like there are different approaches to traditional talk therapy, there are several approaches to music therapy. These include Behavioral, Holistic, Nordoff-Robbins, Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), and Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT). At Dynamic Lynks, our team uses a variety of approaches to best serve the client in front of us. We aim to connect each client with the therapist that will help them achieve their desired goals and outcomes. We place a focus on client-centered and neuro-affirming practices focused on the individual and their family. Therapy is a process that happens with you, not to you!
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM MUSIC THERAPY?
“Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in a wide variety of healthcare and educational settings.”
You can find music therapists in hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, recreation programs and many other locations. Music Therapists work with a wide range of clients from birth to elderly, both with and without disabilities. Because music therapy can be used to reach a variety of goal areas, it can be beneficial for almost anyone. If you know someone who is looking to reach goals in the areas of cognition, communication, physical rehabilitation, socialization, emotional regulation, relaxation, sensory integration, memory enhancement, pain or stress management… music therapy might be for them!
I hope this helps you learn a little bit more about the profession I am so passionate about. I am so lucky to be able to help my clients work on these goals every day and I hope more people look into music therapy for themselves, their loved ones, and their children.
About the Author:
Alyssa is a Board Certified, Neurologic Music Therapist, music educator and yoga instructor. Her holistic approach, engaging expertise and determined drive have led to the reality of her life-long goal, running a successful therapeutic center for children, Dynamic Lynks. A graduate of the University of Miami, Alyssa studied Music Therapy, Music Education, and Psychology. Alyssa is currently pursuing her Master of Music Therapy at Colorado State University. Alyssa's passion lies in celebrating neurodiversity and providing the best therapeutic services to help all individuals reach their fullest potential! Alyssa's current areas of research include executive function skill development through neuro-science informed techniques for neurodivergent individuals.
About Dynamic Lynks:
You can learn more about Dynamic Lynks and Music Therapy at www.dynamiclynks.com and on their social media pages at facebook.com/dynamiclynks and Instagram.com/dynamiclynks. If you’re interested in music therapy for your child, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation to see what services might best support their strengths and needs!
C.I.T.Y. of Support is grateful to Alyssa Stone for her participation as one of our organization's sponsors. Please note that the information and opinions presented here are specifically her own. The purpose of C.I.T.Y. of Support's collaborative blog is to help connect families and professionals to different community resources, and we do not specifically endorse any particular recommendations provided herein.