What Do Music Therapists Do? (Special Needs)
By now, most people have at least heard of music therapy. But for many, the question still remains: what do music therapists do?
I’ve been a Music Therapist for over 10 years now, and every time I tell someone I’m a Music Therapist, they inevitably ask the same question: “so what is music therapy?”
I answer that I help people with special needs and mental health challenges to gain skills and insight to improve their lives. I then explain that this improvement might mean that they learn how to speak, how to respond in social situations, or express their emotions.
Which leads to a natural followup question: “So what do you do?” The answer differs a bit based on the population I’m working with, so this post will outline the most common things I do when working with special needs populations (i.e. Autism, Down Syndrome, Developmental Delay, etc.)
As a Music Therapist working primarily with Special Needs, I narrow down my answer by saying that we:
- Play instruments
- Move to music
We might help a client express emotions through drumming, improve fine motor skills by playing the piano, or socialize with peers by playing instruments in a group.
We may help a client sing in order to improve speech, increase emotional expression, or even memorize their phone number.
We may help a child improve coordination by marching to a steady rhythm, get out excess energy by dancing, or gain control over their impulses by starting or stopping their movements to music.
We may help a child learn to calm themselves by listening to music, stretching to music, or even by playing their own instrument to express themselves.
Every music therapy session looks different because every child has different needs. But in any case, a music therapist is trained to use music to help the client make big progress, and it is typically done as outlined above—through playing instruments, singing, moving to music, or relaxing/listening.
Want to see if music therapy will help you?
To see music therapy firsthand, schedule your free trial session and see if music therapy is the right fit to make a big difference in YOUR life!