What happens in a music therapy session?
The exact methods used in each session depend on the person we're working with and their individual goals. We often use music that the client chooses. From there, we might write songs, improvise musically, re-create live music together, or listen to music to work on their goals.
After determining the therapeutic goals and objectives through an assessment, music experiences are used in each session to meet those pre-determined goals/objectives.
4 COMMON METHODS USED IN MUSIC THERAPY
SONGWRITING: Songwriting can be as simple as filling in the blank of a song to work on speech or language skills, or as complex as composing an original song to express difficult feelings. Group songwriting is a great way to build relationship skills as well.
IMPROVISATION: Improvisation may involve instruments or singing as the client makes up music in the moment. Improvisation is a great way to express emotions, work on attention and executive functioning skills, support auditory processing, or practice language skills.
RE-CREATION: The music therapist often accompanies clients' live music through piano or guitar. They client may play various rhythm or melodic instruments or simply sing. We love to use client preferred music, as research shows this releases beneficial neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin which support attention and uplift mood. As a result, clients are more motivated to meet their goals when they use their preferred music.
LISTENING: Clients may listen to live or recorded music within a session to work on coping skills for anxiety or depression, or to talk about lyrics and express their emotions around difficult topics.