National Music Therapy Week (22-28 June)

How Catherine’s passion for music returned after a serious brain injury.

Catherine in Music Therapy
National Music Therapy Week is a week is dedicated to raising awareness about how music therapy can improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities across the UK. Run by the British Association for Music Therapy, it's taking place from 22-28 June. Music therapy is often a key rehabilitation technique for children with brain injury. Catherine who we met several years ago when she was receiving rehabilitation for a brain injury sustained from a car crash benefitted a lot from music therapy. Aged 17 when we met her, Catherine was unable to speak and had very little movement. No one was sure what kind of recovery she might make.  But slowly her personality began to emerge again, she was slowly saying more words and her previous love of music returned.  Singing during music therapy helped Catherine sustain a louder, clearer speaking voice, which can be seen on the video below. After months of hard work and determination, Catherine was able to hold her clarinet again. In music therapy sessions started to regain the ability to make music. Watch Catherine enjoying music therapy in the vidoe below.

The benefits of music therapy

Almost everyone responds to music, regardless of any physical or cognitive disability. Music therapy can provide emotional support in a similar way to counselling and can also be a way of developing skills. It can be particularly beneficial for people who are unable to speak as it offers them a means of self-expression without words. Music is used as a way of exploring emotions and social interaction. Music therapy is a pupil-led activity where the therapist improvises music in response to the child’s musical playing, singing, movements, breathing pattern or mood. Children are given plenty of time to initiate or respond to the music. This may give them the experience of ‘togetherness’ with the therapist and a sense of being heard and accepted. This helps to build a positive and therapeutic relationship between child and therapist. Music therapy is also a great technique for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities, helping them communicate and interact.
Tim and Megan
Tim is a music therapist who works with children with brain injury and PMLD. Here he is during music therapy with Megan who has Rett syndrome.
Typical music therapy aims include:
  • Developing a therapeutic relationship that addresses the social and emotional needs of the child. Music is used here as a way of expressing feelings.
  • Maintaining and developing communication skills, such as turn-taking and choice making.
  • Providing an opportunity for the child to explore how they can have an impact on their surroundings and those around them.
  • Encouraging child’s awareness of their peers through musical interaction in groups.
  • Assessing the child’s overall abilities and needs.
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