Parents who seek music therapy for their children in this age range may be looking to address similar issues to those for younger children: common diagnoses include Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyper Activity Disorder (ADHD), Genetic Disorders (such as Down Syndrome), Developmental Delays, and Speech Disorders and Delays.
In addition, older children who are now in school may be discovering new challenges such as learning disorders or bullying, and children and adolescents may be struggling with mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. Music therapy can also help children who are going through a difficult time, such as a death in the family, parental divorce, or a life-changing illness.
For the cognitive concerns listed above, the science behind techniques used by music therapists often revolves around the developing brain. I covered how music therapists are able to take advantage of this development in the last post in this series which you can read here. While the brain is developing at an extremely fast rate in early childhood, it continues to develop (albeit at a slower speed) through adolescence. Brain plasticity, or the ability of our brains to rewire themselves, forging new connections, remains through adulthood. For these reasons, music therapy remains an excellent way to achieve goals of a cognitive nature during this stage of life.
Mental Health and Emotional Disorders
For those children and teens dealing with concerns of the emotional domain and mental health, there is a type of music therapy called Music Psychotherapy that could offer some real help.
The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) says that:
The scope of practice of psychotherapy includes the assessment and treatment of cognitive, emotional or behavioural disturbances by psychotherapeutic means, delivered through a therapeutic relationship based primarily on verbal or non-verbal communication.
Some music therapists have specialized training which allows them to provide psychotherapy through musical means, or Music Psychotherapy. In Ontario, the act of psychotherapy will be soon regulated (January 1, 2019) which means that anyone providing psychotherapy has to be a member of a regulatory College, such as the CRPO, or a few other Colleges. Most music therapists who are permitted to provide music psychotherapy will be members of the CRPO and you will know that because they will have the credential of Registered Psychotherapist (or RP).
Music psychotherapy can be used in many of the same situations where verbal (or talk) therapy might be used. Music therapists who are also RP’s can tackle such concerns as anxiety, bullying, eating disorders, trauma, and depression. Sessions might include verbal components, as well as songwriting, improvising new music together, and learning relaxation techniques, among other possibilities.
Increasing and maintaining physical abilities
For children and teens who would like to work on physical goals, music therapists can help with everything from increasing lung capacity in breathing, to limb and trunk strength, to gait training (working towards a more even walk). The possibilities vary widely and will depend on the child concerned.
Here is a video about music therapy in a children’s hospital.
Other posts in this series
- Music Therapy Through Life: Palliative Care and End of Life
- Music Therapy Through Life: Oncology
- Music Therapy Through Life: Older Adults and Dementia
- Music Therapy Through Life: Mental Health
- Music Therapy Through Life: Rehabilitation
- Music Therapy Through Life: Mid to Late Childhood and Adolescence