Music therapy

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Music Therapy (Video file)

Music Therapy

This video explains what happens in a music therapy session and describes how it can help children and young people experiencing communication difficulties or emotional challenges. 

Narrator
Music therapy is based on the understanding that all human beings are able to respond to music, irrespective of musical ability. It involves the use of sound, rhythm and improvised music in order to form a musical relationship between the child or young person and the therapist. 

Music therapy sessions can offer people a different experience of shared play, interaction, learning and understanding, through verbal and non-verbal modes of communication. In practical terms, this may involve music making with instruments, song, music technology, sound, talking, listening, and opportunities for client led play.

In this therapeutic relationship, the child or young person can respond and discover a sense of self. In this respect, we explore the client’s individual potential and identity within a therapeutic process that’s designed especially for them in a safe and creative environment.

Parent 1
It’s helped me and my son an awful lot because before he started coming here he had terrible problems at school, very frustrated and angry all the time, and just breaking things, terrible ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). We took him along and it was the best thing I’ve ever done because since then it’s like it’s another part of his life where he enjoys it and I think also when he’s in there he can release frustration that he can’t at home. He can beat the drums or he can put his words into his music and into songs and his anger. When he first started coming his songs were like heavy metal but now they’re more mellow, so it’s definitely worked and I would advise other mums out there to get their children into music therapy because it has been a very big part of my life and a very happy part of my life.

Client (parent 1’s son)
It makes me better at getting frustrated, because I’m having fun. Because I’m always sitting down in the chair and I always fall asleep and they tell me to wake up and I get frustrated and angry.

Narrator
Children and young people will often experience emotional challenges at different stages of their lives. Illness, communication difficulties or disability may be contributing factors.  Traumatic experiences, change and loss can also have an impact on their wellbeing. Music therapy can address specific symptoms, but change is achieved through working with the person as a whole.  Referrals are based on the child or young person’s particular emotional needs such as feeling safe and the potential for improved relationships or reduced isolation - not simply on a medical diagnosis.

Barbara Warren, Headteacher, Greenacres Primary School and Children's Centre and Executive Headteacher, Alderwood Primary School and Children’s Centre
As a commissioner of music therapy services we find the benefits to children are extensive. Children’s needs vary in terms of medical needs to social communication needs and our aim is to ensure that children develop the social skills that help them towards the academic skills. Joint working is very important and music therapy is part of a range of services that we use to benefit individual children.

Narrator
Oxleas Music Therapy Service offers assessment and music therapy for children and young people who have a Greenwich GP from infancy to 19 years old. This may involve individual or group sessions, either on a short or long term basis. Sessions take place weekly and usually last about half an hour.

We also offer an under fives service which includes both music therapy and Interactive music making. This service aims to promote early child development through play and music making. Working with children under five means that we can support the identification of a child’s needs at an early stage and target appropriate support for the child and family where necessary. Interactive music making also aims to share accessible skills in musical play with parents and professionals in the local community.

Music therapy work with a child or young person is reviewed at regular intervals in order to ensure that information sharing sensitive to an individual’s needs takes place between parents/carers and professionals involved. Music therapy sessions support education and health professionals to better support children’s needs.

Parent 2
If other parents are looking for a therapy I would recommend music therapy because it is really good and it helps improve the children with this kind of condition – autistic, which Samuel has. It is really good – I would advise parents to bring their children here.

Narrator
The Music Therapy Service accepts referrals for children from professionals in the health service, social care, education and the voluntary sector. This includes: speech and language therapists; GPs; social workers; and teachers. You can approach any of these professionals or community workers to request a music therapy referral for your child. Professionals must seek parent or carer permission before a referral is made.  If you are under the age of 19 and would like to receive music therapy, you can talk to your GP or school about being referred.

On screen text
For more information, please contact the Oxleas Music Therapy Service, Greenwich, on 020 8294 3139.

The service is open to children and young people aged 0-19 years who are registered with a Greenwich GP.

Out of borough services and additional in-borough services can be developed through partnership funding.

Music therapy is based on the understanding that all human beings are able to respond to music, irrespective of musical ability. It involves the use of sound, rhythm and improvised music in order to form a musical relationship between the child or young person and the therapist.

Music therapy sessions can offer people a different experience of shared play, interaction, learning and understanding, through verbal and non-verbal modes of communication. In practical terms, this may involve music making with instruments, song, music technology, sound, talking, listening, and opportunities for client led play.

In this therapeutic relationship, the child or young person can respond and discover a sense of self. In this respect, we explore the client's individual potential and identity within a therapeutic process that's designed especially for them in a safe and creative environment.

Professional Manager for Music Therapy, Sarah Hadley, says: "The Music Therapy Service is accessed by children and young people up to the age of 19 who are experiencing complex emotional, psychological, social, behavioural, communication or interpersonal difficulties.

"Therapists are highly trained - we all have a degree in music and have undertaken further post graduate training in music therapy. We use music as a therapeutic language which is very different from traditional music making. We work on the assumption that people are innately musical - that is that rhythm, melody and harmony are a natural part of each of us and we use sound, rhythm and improvised music to form therapeutic relationships with our clients. This offers them a different experience of shared interaction and aims to develop their awareness, understanding and robustness in their role in relationships."

Sarah points out that the most natural rhythm is our heartbeat, and that we all have a natural tempo in the way we move and speak. Therapists pick up on this and respond musically - this could be through singing and piano playing for example - to the rhythms they perceive in their clients. Sarah again: "Every conversation has a melodic line. Even the non-verbal sounds made by toddlers have pitch and music therapists are trained to pick up on this rhythm and pitch and use it to create a musical dialogue with the client."

According to Sarah, we all respond naturally to music. This is not a cognitive process so therapists work in an improvisational way and gradually build up trust and communication with their clients. The therapy takes place in a special music therapy room equipped with a variety of instruments that clients can freely use during their session. Sarah says therapists are trained to use harmony to reflect what they observe in their clients: "We become emotional sounding boards for our clients. It's all geared to creating a musical blueprint of what we're experiencing with them and that's just the start!"

Sarah stresses that music therapists are committed to a multi-professional method of working and links with schools and other health professionals, particularly the paediatric therapy team, are extremely important to successful outcomes.