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Behavior Categories

In order to develop the most effective interventions, music therapists categorize or prioritize behaviors during the assessment process. The categories below are one example of categories for challenging behaviors. 1. Dangerous Behaviors. Safety demands that we immediately address dangerous behaviors, those that have the potential for physical or emotional harm to the individual or to […]

More than making music

As a music therapist, I am able to use music to draw people into therapy, to develop relationships with individuals through active music-making, and to use the music setting to help people learn new skills, relationships, and attitudes, thereby enhancing strengths and compensating for deficit areas. But, because the individuals I see in music therapy […]

Speak Up!

Although music has some intrinsic value in encouraging communication, the music therapist can utilize specific strategies to help facilitate language. Consider these strategies: 1. Set the occasion for spontaneous interaction through pleasant, interesting music experiences. 2. Create a need to communicate by providing choices and asking for opinions. 3. Increase your sensitivity to other’s needs […]

Accessible Music for All

What do you do if you have a music therapy group with extremely diverse music skills? It is up to you as a music therapist to adapt, compose, arrange, rearrange, or otherwise help every group member participate on some level. For example, in a high school life skills class, the group ensemble recently included (1) […]

Get Your Foot in the Door

Music therapists have an advantage when developing new leads for jobs. We are musicians and therapists, so we have more opportunities than most professionals to make contacts and raise our visibility in the community and in various agencies. As therapists, we can present workshops, in-service training, pilot projects, mentoring, demonstrations of music therapy, and speeches […]

Detective Work

When therapists look at behaviors, we tend to just document the action and how often it occurs. So we might say, “Joanne hit Timothy 4 times in music therapy.” We can address the behaviors more effectively if we scout out the catalyst and surrounding circumstances. What happened before the incident? Does Joanne hit whenever the […]

Symphony without distractions

One of my long-time students diagnosed with autism is intrigued with the intricacies and grandeur of orchestras, but her habit of occasional loud outbursts and her perseverative motor mannerisms would be quite disruptive in a symphony hall. Last summer we found a way to help her enjoy live performances. She and her family sat in […]