My name is Leslie Saulsbury and I am a Board-Certified, Licensed Music Therapist.
The definition of music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. THAT is a mouthful!
When, Where, and Why?
To break it down, we use music to help support people’s non-musical goals. Music therapists can work in hospitals, schools, rehabilitation facilities, and much more. Some of the goals we might be supporting are managing pain and anxiety, reducing stress, enhancing wellness, expressing feelings, or improving communication.
To do this, we can play music, listen to music, write songs, improvise, or engage in music assisted guided imagery and relaxation just to name a few. Music therapy is a goal-based service and you most certainly don’t have to be a musician to utilize it! Anyone can participate in music therapy regardless of music ability; though enjoying music in some capacity has a positive influence on the effectiveness of this type of treatment.
Music Therapy and MMIHS
"I have had the privilege to work with a little lady with MMIHS. She receives music therapy as procedural support during her port dressing changes and lab draws. These appointments occur at least weekly and had always caused her anxiety. With music therapy present, we were able to sing favorite songs with her, her parents, and the hospital staff doing the procedure. The guitar I use to accompany the music provides a more esthetically pleasing atmosphere, and the hand-held instruments we use give her something to do with her hands as a positive distraction. The addition of music therapy allows her to feel more comfortable in the hospital environment and that results in the procedures going much smoother." -Everly's Music Therapist, Leslie
"Music Therapy has helped to make a very scary experience for our daughter each week, an enjoyable one! We are beyond grateful for this! She truly loves seeing these wonderful therapists each week and taking part in the singing and dancing that takes place. She loves it so much that we have decided to start music therapy in our home!" -Everly's Mom, Erin
Music Therapy at Home
Since we know that music is a powerful way to promote normalcy and reduce stress, there are definitely ways to use music at home. You could choose “family songs” or special songs that are meaningful to your family or loved ones. You could utilize songs for routines or schedules. Even making up silly songs together is a great way to feel closer. Changing the words to a favorite song is a great way to start songwriting!
If you do get the chance to work with a music therapist, I would encourage you to just be yourself! Make sure the therapist knows what you expect from the sessions so both of you can be on the same page. Identifying a goal to share with your therapist is a good idea as well.
To find a music therapist, one of the best resources is the American Music Therapy Association’s (AMTA) website: www.musictherapy.org. There is a spot to search for board-certified music therapists in your area as well as other important information about music therapy. In some cases, music therapy is covered under your insurance policy. The AMTA website offers more information about insurance coverage and anything else you would like to know about this wonderful field.