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Why Music Therapy?

What is music therapy and how can it help my child?


Sometimes when difficult things happen it can be really hard to talk about them. Music therapy offers access to a new, symbolic way of communicating in which clients can project their hurt feelings into the music, to be held and contained by the therapist. We learn to communicate through music, through the primary caregiver’s musical mirroring of our non-verbal communication, and so music therapy can unlock communication and turn taking in a non-threatening way (Malloch & Trevarthen, 2009). For a young person who hasn’t always been able to form healthy attachments, the music therapist can offer a ‘secure base’ (Bowlby, 1988) allowing whatever needs to be expressed to come up through the music. In short, music therapy can be an incredibly transformative experience.


I have been able to see first-hand the power of this work with several clients from across the lifespan. My most recent placement at a medium secure unit, allowed me to see how trauma can manifest in adulthood if left unresolved in childhood. Song-writing and improvisation has been a key part of this work, in allowing the client to connect with their story, and their individuality, forming a strong sense of self. My dissertation project explored the experiences of teachers working alongside creative arts therapists. We discussed how the therapist communicates the work, whether collaboration is possible, and how integrated the therapist was within the school’s family dynamic.

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