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  • Natalie Hawkins

Beyond the Data: The Unspoken Power of Music Therapy

Music therapy extends far beyond the written goals and objectives assigned to a client. Incorporating music is a multi-modal practice, often encompassing multiple domains simultaneously.


While a music therapist may be addressing an academic objective through instrument play and a fill in the blank intervention; mobility, impulse control, and fine motor skills may be addressed during the session as well.


Another example- a music therapist may be practicing positive self talk skills with a drum intervention, while the client is simultaneously improving more self regulation skills, participating in movement, and decreasing aggressive behaviors.


Data collection is necessary to observe client progress objectively and to provide further credibility regarding the benefits of music therapy. We understand the importance of data collection, however, it is vital to address that the benefits of music therapy often extend far past what the data collection shows.


This is a theme I have noticed throughout my practice as a music therapist- a client is working on a specific goal, and they are simultaneously benefitting in multiple ways during their sessions. Music therapy leads to quantitative progress but more times than not also shows qualitative progress.


In my current practice, I have a student who is working on decreasing aggressive behaviors. We address this goal weekly through our sessions, often through drum interventions. While the student is showing a decrease in aggressive behaviors on the days they have music therapy, and also over time decreasing these behaviors, the student is also improving multiple skills at once.


Throughout the session, the student is improving emotion expression and recognition skills, transitioning skills, language development, impulse control, cognitive functioning, range of motion, and overall affect/mood. This student is engaged in a session for 30 minutes once a week and is able to address this many objectives simultaneously.


Through music therapy, we are able to more effectively address our clients’ needs while providing a motivating and safe environment to do so.



Providers- how are you utilizing music in your practices? Let’s have a conversation about how we can more efficiently engage our students and provide the necessary benefits they need for true therapeutic progress.


Here’s to empowering future generations,


Natalie


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