What is Music Health Intervention?
Music health intervention is a music education based approach to health and well-being. Focussing on the associated benefits of music, this psychological intervention uses the elements of specialist music education approaches to promote interaction. A person-centred approach helps to develop the relationship. Music health interventionists deliver treatment programs to return lifestyle balance by carefully structuring specialist music education activities. While the relationship with the interventionist facilitates changes, the skill development allows clients to access the experience well beyond the sessions, influencing the client’s emotional well-being. Music health interventionists are skilled in attentive and analytical listening, responding in a unique way to enable people of all ages and abilities to interact in their own musical language at their own level and pace.
The aims of music health intervention are neither educational nor musical; clients do not have to be able to sing, dance or play an instrument to benefit from music health intervention. Music health interventionists work on restoring self-confidence, balance and well-being by developing social, emotional, and communication skills.
How does it work?
Clients are free to move, sing or play a wide variety of musical instruments in the music therapy room. There is no right or wrong way of being involved. The interventionist will support clients to explore the body, voice or instruments in a way that is meaningful to them. Through this exploration, a means of communication is developed.
Computers and music technology can also be used to help clients to access sound and music making. Using this equipment can be motivating and engaging for certain clients, as it offers contemporary sounds, and can also directly address cognitive needs. Music technology can also be used to record songs that have been worked on in sessions. For some clients, songwriting will address emotional and psychological problems very effectively, while for others, free improvisation may be more appropriate. The interventionist will guide this.
Who can it help?
People with mental health difficulties:
Music health intervention is an effective alternative to more standard forms of counselling, CBT and psychotherapy. It is well suited to clients who find it difficult to connect, express or differentiate between their emotions, or who find it difficult to communicate in any way. The opportunity to move, sing or play spontaneously on instruments with the therapist enables clients to channel their emotional energy safely. This can reduce stress, frustration and tension, improving emotional wellbeing.
People with neurological difficulties:
Music is processed in many parts of the brain, which makes it an excellent tool for people living with an acquired brain injury or a neuro-degenerative condition such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Individual and group programmes can be devised for assessment, neuro-rehabilitation and quality of life. These aspects can be addressed by adopting the following approaches:
Compensatory: Using music to compensate for losses, in conjunction with tools such as memory/communication aids
Psycho-social emotional: Using music to enable emotional expression, engagement in social interaction and adjustment to disability.
Restorative: Using music to regain skill and function, for example speech, movement, cognition.
People with social and communication disorders:
Social interaction: Music health intervention is based on forming a relationship between client and interventionist. This can be a helpful way to explore the idea of relationship, in a safe and nonintrusive environment.
Communication: Music provides an additional form of communication. The interventionist attends closely and responds to the client in a way that encourages and values further communication. This can be verbal or non-verbal.
Imagination: Music motivates clients to engage in a naturally creative, imaginative process, with the support of their interventionist. Clients often move away from a ritualistic use of music to a more flexible and creative use. This can lead to the development of less rigid thought and behaviour patterns.
People with learning disabilities:
Music health intervention provides a unique method of communicating which is suitable for those with limited expressive or receptive communication skills. Regular engagement in music making, at the client’s pace, can greatly enhance communication skills, social awareness, emotional well-being, cognitive function and coordination.
People with multisensory impairment:
Interventionists work with all aspects of sound, including vibration. Clients with complex, profound and multiple learning disabilities, hearing impairment, multi-sensory impairment or who are deafblind, can access music health interventions at their own level and pace.
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