What is Music Therapy and how will it help my child
Music therapy is a branch of arts psychotherapy that uses music as well as talking to the therapist as a vehicle to help children and young people express, explore their emotions and the stories they have about themselves and others. Music is a universal language which can express emotions and feelings directly both with and without words. As such, music can be a very effective carrier and container for unconscious feelings and emotions.
Music therapy invites the child to participate in music making, songs, listening to music, improvisation and verbal psychotherapy to help the child explore their experiences and work creatively with their conscious and unconscious behaviours. The music therapist combines music with elements of play, art, dance, movement and mindfulness according to the needs of the child.
The child’s interactions and responses in relationship to the therapist, instruments, music and environment are witnessed and thought about in terms of the child’s patterns of interacting and relating in daily life.
Sometimes children or young people are not ready to talk or understand. Having the option of music and creativity can help to build trust and freedom of expression in the therapeutic relationship.
Music therapy puts the child or young person’s emotional expression and behavior at the very centre of the session. The therapist works only with what the child brings to the sessions, allowing the child to create the direction for the therapy. A child does not need a music training of any kind in order to access music therapy. The therapist does not aim to teach the child musically although if the child requests teaching this can also provide valuable avenues for therapy.
For some children who are not particularly verbal, music therapy can allow for the expression and naming of strong unconscious emotions and behaviours. This helps the child to become more conscious of their true emotional state, behavior, communication patterns and social relationships at a pace that the child can manage.
For children and young people who are more articulate, music therapy can facilitate a safe space where they can explore the themes of growing up, puberty, social relationships, behavioural habits, work and any other challenging issues that may be difficult to communicate about at school, or with peers or parents.
Children may benefit from a number of musical techniques that allow them to feel listened to, held and sometimes challenged within the music and play itself. Some children may develop more cognitive awareness, linguistic ability, motor co-ordination and emotional awareness in the process. Music therapy fosters creativity, imagination, play, communication skills and may increase confidence and self-esteem.