Music therapy

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Music has the power to affect us in different ways. It can be stimulating or soothing; stir our emotions and memories, comfort and inspire. We use music therapy to help people with a range of conditions including learning disabilities, neurological disorders, life-limiting illness, brain injury, cerebral palsy, mental health issues, trauma, stroke and dementia. Music therapy uses music to break down barriers caused by illness or disability. 

Music therapists are trained to use music to connect to and build a relationship with a person who may be withdrawn and isolated as a result of their physical or mental health condition. In some cases, music therapy can be particularly effective when a person has complex needs and cannot be easily reached in other ways. Every person responds differently but typically music therapy improves quality of life, confidence, communication and reduces anxiety and isolation.

A music therapy session lasts up to an hour and may be one-to-one, or in small or large groups. When appropriate, family members, friends or carers may also join a session. The music therapist aims to encourage the client to interact through music by playing different instruments, singing, using music apps on an ipad, joining in with familiar music, making up music on the spot (improvising), moving different parts of the body, writing songs and rehearsing. Everyone’s experience of music therapy is different because every person is different. 

The therapist  sets clear aims and objectives for the music therapy, often in conjunction with the person taking part, their relatives or carers, and other professionals.  These aims can change over time, as the work progresses and the therapist will always work flexibly and be led by the client. The format that the music therapy takes will also develop, according to the needs of the individual.

The music therapy profession is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council and represented by the British Association for Music Therapy.

Read more in our Annual Report 2016.