Let us put ourselves in the shoes of an Autistic child. One who struggles with the daily exhaustion of socialising. A child who feels overwhelmed by walking into a classroom due to sensory overload. A child who uses their ritualised and patterned behaviour to help calm their nerves and anxiety. A child who feels intense emotions, but cannot find the language to express how she or he feels.
What if we can help them find another form of language? A creative outlet that helps them work through their pain. A way to help them communicate with others and a way in which they can express their inner most thoughts and feelings. What if the universal language of music can be their newfound strength?!
I am sure we can all attest to the power of music. A song has the potential to take us back to a significant time in our life; it has the potential to uplift us, to make us feel happy and calm; to make us want to cry into our pillows or to make us want to scream and shout. Music is all about ‘the feels’. But there is something about music that not many of us know…Music is actually a form of therapy!
Music Therapy, which is facilitated by a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), incorporates a wide range of music-based interventions to help individuals develop & achieve personal goals. RMT’s are evidenced based practitioners who can support people of all ages and abilities; from Autistic children struggling with social communication and interaction, to teens struggling with anxiety and depression; from neonates and mothers struggling to bond and form a secure attachment with their infant child, to elderly patients suffering from dementia.
So what is the difference between a Music Teacher and a Music Therapist? Whilst Music teaching aims to teach & improve on musical skills, Music Therapy uses music as a tool for growth, healing & self-expression. It is more focused on health, function and well-being.
Music therapy can provide children and adolescents with an opportunity to;
Express themselves (through music creation and writing with the music therapist)
Improve or maintain self-esteem and a sense of autonomy (adolescents can play an active role in selecting songs and helping create the program)
Reduce irritability or anxiety (through use of live music and the addition of relaxation techniques)
Identify personal strengths
Stimulate development (in combination with cognitive, social and physical activities)
Interact or participate socially
Improve family bonding
Feel less isolated if they are experiencing long term illness
Interact and express themselves if they are physically impaired
Express themselves if they have experienced trauma
So...for some individuals it may be beneficial to consider the use of music as a form of therapy! By immersing people in the beauty of music and tapping into our primal source of rhythm, music therapists can support us in feeling more connected to others, they can help us more easily express ourselves, identify and process difficult emotions and simply feel a sense of emotional release.