The Australian Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as:
“Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing.
Music therapy is the intentional use of music by a university-trained professional who is registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc. Registered music therapists draw on an extensive body of research and are bound by a code of ethics that informs their practice.
Music therapists incorporate a range of music making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice. Music therapy is different from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing.
Music therapists are committed to supporting people of any age and ability regardless of musical skill, culture or background”
(Australian Music Therapy Association)
How can Sound Expression assist adults through music?
Sound Expression offers music therapy and community music programs for adults with autism spectrum disorder, physical disability, intellectual and developmental disability and traumatic brain injury.
We have extensive experience in utilising music therapy and community music in working with adults with a wide range of disabilities.
Music therapy for adults with disabilities has many beneficial effects. It provides sensory stimulation and can help to improve an individual’s physical, mental, social and emotional well-being.
Some goals that a client can work towards are:
Enhance communication skills and build participation in interpersonal interactions and the community
Assume responsibility, confidence building, self-expression and meeting challenges
Foster psychological wellbeing and the ability to relate to one another in the community
Assist with safe and supported emotional expression
Reduce anxiety and assist in mood regulation
Function as independently as possible
Maintain or improve mobility, communication and/or cognitive processing
Cognitive, social, emotional and interpersonal elements
Develop fine and gross motor skills
Enhance listening, concentration, turn-taking, waiting, sharing, making choices, decision-making
Skills developed and practised in music therapy have the ultimate objective of helping each client function better in their daily environments including work, home and leisure
Reduce isolation and increase community engagement
Increase opportunities for social interaction
Opportunities for creative achievement and working towards experiences that are both meaningful and satisfying
Provide each client with experiences that enhance communicative meaning and personal self-esteem
Build a positive atmosphere with a balance of containment and freedom, as well as individual and collective participation
Facilitate emotional growth and development
How will music therapy help me achieve my goals?
Would music therapy help you achieve your goals? Discussion and thinking around these questions might be helpful in deciding:
Is music an important part of your life? (Relevance)
Would you like to share your music time with other people? (Connectedness)
Would you like to explore ways to express yourself more? (Identity)
Does music sometimes affect how you’re feeling? (Healthy and Unhealthy Uses)
Could playing music with other people help you feel better? (Emotions)
Music provides opportunities for people to participate, engage, learn, celebrate and interact. Music therapists can help to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can experience the maximum benefits of music participation. Music therapists can work with adults both individually and in group settings. Individual support can be of benefit to people who may have specific emotional or behavioural issues, offering an opportunity to express feelings and learn safe ways of sharing these with others in a secure and caring relationship. Group programs allow individuals to interact musically with their peers and provide opportunities for the development of friendships in an environment of shared acceptance and creativity.
Identifying the most urgent need of each participating individual and designing a music therapy program that is person-centred, accounting for abilities, cultural and social backgrounds, is crucial. Music therapy services are offered depending on the severity of disability. For people whose disabilities are mild or moderate, music therapists typically focus on behavioural, social, or learning outcomes. This may include addressing the causes of challenging behaviours and facilitating quality interactions between peers and with staff in group music therapy. Based on the community music therapy approach, promoting community engagement and performance can provide unique opportunities for social inclusion and connectedness, as well as improving self-confidence, self-esteem and a sense of autonomy for the participants.
For people whose disabilities are severe and profound, music therapy tends to address goals focused almost exclusively on interaction, communication, socialisation and physical needs. Communication objectives are broad, from pre-intentional skills such as awareness and engagement, through to responding to verbal instructions with actions. Enhancing choice and decision-making skills of adults with disability is critical, and research shows that using a person’s preferred songs can enable people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities to improve their choice-making skills using non-verbal facial expressions and eye-gaze. Physical goals are often addressed effectively in conjunction with physiotherapy programs, targeting the maintenance or improvement of motor control.
1. Initial assessment: we assess the client’s needs within a music therapy setting to determine the client’s current abilities and needs
2. Goal-setting: an individualised program is developed with goals based on the client’s needs.
3. Music therapy sessions: sessions consist of interactive interventions designed to address the music therapy goals. These could include singing, moving to music, playing instruments, improvising through music and song-writing.
4. Evaluation: the program is regularly evaluated to ensure it is meeting the identified goals.
Sessions are 30-45 minutes duration (depending on the needs of the clients) and are conducted on a weekly basis.
HOW DO I GET started?
At Sound Expression, we understand that starting a new therapy can be daunting. To ease the process, we offer a complimentary initial meeting to visit our clinic, meet the therapist and discuss your needs. To start music therapy at Sound Expression, please complete our Music Therapy Referral Form.