Music Therapy Intervention Techniques
One of the most common questions music therapists are asked is, “What do you actually DO in a music therapy session?” This can be difficult to answer, since sessions are tailored for the individual or group with whom the music therapist is working. Depending on the needs of the client, some frequently used interventions include the following:
Improvising… Structured and spontaneous music-making provides a non-threatening means for the expression of both positive and negative emotions, while encouraging communication through music.
Listening… Depending on the type, listening to music can be a relaxing experience—slowing heart rate, regulating breathing, and easing muscle tension; or an invigorating one—stimulating positive energy, elevating mood, and deflecting negative thoughts.
Songwriting… Composing music and writing lyrics gives clients a socially appropriate vehicle to organize thoughts and emotions, and the satisfaction of creating something tangible.
Movement… Music motivates movement! Music therapists are trained to utilize rhythm and sound-based techniques to advance gross and fine motor skills, improve muscle tone, enhance balance, and increase range of motion.
Music and Imagery… Pairing music with associated images in the client’s mind encourages self-exploration and induces relaxation, providing a non-pharmaceutical approach to stress management. Progressive Muscle Relaxation can also be incorporated for optimal mental and physical release.
Playing Instruments… Vocal and instrumental instruction and exploration can give the client a sense of accomplishment and the freedom to express through music what cannot be said with words. (Not to mention, it’s fun!)