music therapy advocacy

Top 5 Qualities to Look For in a Music Therapist

I recently read a blog on the top 5 qualities to look for in an individual therapist or family therapist. It got me thinking. What do parents or other professionals look for in a music therapist? What are the key qualities to look for in a music therapist?

Here are the qualities I have come up with for top 5 qualities to look for in a music therapist working with children.

1. Team Player

It is very important to find a music therapist who works well in a multi-disciplinary team. When I first began my practice I was so "green" and I consulted with other therapists such as Occupational, Physical and Speech Therapists. I learned so much from them and more over, I learned how to work together to make sure the best success was achieved for the child. Make sure that your music therapists has a wealth of consulting and works well with others in the child's team support system.

2. Creative and Fun

It is important for a music therapist to be creative. It is often imperative that a music therapist be able to make up songs and activities "on-the-spot" to match your child to where they're at. A music therapist often needs to adapt songs and activities to engage or motivate a child in the desired activity to achieve various goals.

3. Adaptable & Knowledgable

Just because a music therapist has a bachelor or masters degree it doesn't end there. Music therapists are required to follow up on continuing education and researching the latests educational resources in their specialized client population.

4. Compassionate and Patient

Working with children with special needs, especially autism can be most challenging at times. It is very important that the music therapist you are seeking to work with your child has a deep desire and compassion to work with children with special needs. You have every right to ask your therapist what inspired them to choose to work with children with autism. It is also crucial that music therapists working with children with autism have a great deal and gift of patience. Considering children with autism function and experience the world in different ways than we do, it is crucial that the music therapist you choose has a great deal of patience in waiting and understanding how your child acts or reacts in certain situations.

5. Problem-Solver

Working with children with special needs considers a great deal of problems-solving skills. It's imperative that the music therapist that you choose can "think on their feet" and come up with a solution that your child is dealing with through a musical activity or therapeutic intervention. You can simply ask your therapist in an interview, "what is the most challenging client you have worked with and how did you problem-solve to come up with a solution?"

I hope you find this list helpful in choosing the music therapist that is the best fit for you and your child's needs. For a list of music therapist in your area you can contact your local music therapy association or the American Music Therapy Association website. 

If you have other qualities that you think are important I would love to hear from you, please write them in the comment section below.

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5 Reasons Why Music Therapy is Effective For Children With Autism

March is music therapy awareness month and I would like to highlight some of the reasons why music therapy is effective especially for children with autism.

1.     It is multi-sensory

            Music is appealing to most of our senses, which makes music therapy unique in that we can work on multi goals simultaneously. For example, a drumming exercise helps with eye-hand coordination, eye contact, motor and impulse control.

2.     It is fun, safe and engaging

            Music therapy provides a fun, safe and engaging environment for children with autism to explore and play. It also provides many opportunities for successful outcomes which helps to builds self-esteem and increases motivation.

3.     It is structured and predictable

            Music therapy can provide a structured and safe environment for children with autism to explore.  Music that has a lot of repetition is predictable, which makes learning much easier for children with autism.  The musical repetition helps them to self-regulate, because they know what is coming up next.

4.     It is processed in all areas of the brain

            Recent research shows that when we listen to music, all areas of the brain are lit up.   Music therapists have known this for a long time, but now have the science to back it up. Music can help with speech and communication challenges, for social connection, for emotional regulation, motor control, and many other things.

5.     It facilitates communication

            Perhaps you’ve heard that “music is the universal language.”  Taking this literally, we can use music in therapy to increase non-verbal communication through improvisation. Children with autism connect to music to express their feelings, emotions, and life stories. The interplay between the music therapist and child with autism is done in a non-threatening way, opening up many channels of communication.

Please feel free to share and comment on how you find music therapy to be effective for children with autism.

#mtawareness

For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with special needs through music click here.

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I am a Music Therapist! I am an Advocate! #mtadvocacy

I am a Music Therapist!.jpg

January is Social Media Awareness month for music therapy advocacy.  #mtadvocacy

To me, an advocate is someone who believes who-heartedly in their cause, and demonstrates by example those values and beliefs, and seeks to educate others on the merits of their particular cause. 

I wasn't always a music therapy advocate. During my undergraduate studies in music, I soon realized that a career in music wasn't for me.  I knew the power of music, but I really wanted to be in a healing/helping profession. My faculty advisor suggested I consider music therapy and recommended I read Case Studies in Music Therapy, by Kenneth Bruscia. That day I became a music therapy advocate!  

This discovery caused me to move from Newfoundland to Vancouver to get my degree in music therapy.   That was 14 years ago this month!  Wow, how time flies.

Over the years I have learned and applied the modalities of music therapy, and have seen some amazing transformations in many of my clients.

My music therapy clientele has mostly been children with special needs, primarily autism. Over the years, I have heard so many parents say that they had tried every kind of therapy out there, but that music therapy is the only one that worked.  This is why I have been such an advocate for music therapy in everything I've done since -- as a music therapist, marriage and family therapist, child advocate, student executive, college professor, online blogger,  and in various committee positions.  Here is how I advocate for music therapy every day:

  • Doing
  • Showing
  • Proving 
  • Blogging
  • Modeling
  • Sharing
  • Educating
  • Loving
  • Encouraging
  • Supporting
  • Promoting
  • Researching
  • and more...

These are just a few qualities I have committed to as a music therapy advocate. Can you think of other qualities to add to this list? Please write in the comments below.

To celebrate music therapy advocacy month (#mtadvocacy) I am offering 50% off all my original songs.

Click on the image to the right and it will take you to the song list. 

Enter Code: MTAD2014

Offer Ends: January 31, 2014

Get Your Discounted Songs Now!

Happy Music Therapy Advocacy Month!

#mtadvocacy

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For FREE songs, videos and tips on how to support children with special needs through music click here!