Music therapy is a goal-oriented therapy that improves daily functioning and quality of life by assessing the needs of an individual, creating specific goals for that individual and then using music to achieve those goals. Music therapy can work wonders alone, and It is also a wonderful complement to many other common therapies such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and ABA therapy. It has been found to be highly effective among many client populations. One area of particular effectiveness is when music therapy is used as an early intervention tool for children with autism and other developmental delays.
My area of expertise is in working with children with developmental delays, particularly those with autism. As a certified special education teacher who has worked in public school systems in two states and as a board certified music therapist who has worked various settings, I have seen the power of music therapy for both children and adults with disabilities.
Music Therapy Research
Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders:
Music Therapy and Rhett Syndrome:
Music Therapy and Special Education:
Music Therapy and Williams Syndrome:
Following is an article about my practice that was published in the March 2015 edition of Natural Awakenings Magazine:
Music Therapy Makes a Difference for Children with Disabilities
Have you heard of speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy? How about music therapy? Music therapy is a treatment modality that harnesses the power of music to address motor skills, social skills, cognitive deficits, and communication delays, among other areas of need.
Music can evoke immediate physical and emotional responses in children, making sessions fun and engaging while addressing important life skills. For example, a child entering music therapy with motor difficulties and social skill delays may be highly motivated to play a preferred instrument such as a drum. While playing the child’s favorite songs on live instruments, the music therapist guides the child to reach to the right or left to play the drum and to enter on a certain beat, providing a fun way to exercise muscles, improve balance, and increase hand/eye coordination. While therapist and child co-create the music, the therapist may lead experimentation with musical nuances of mood, tempo, and rhythm. Musical imitation and interplay between therapist and client improves expressive and receptive communication skills, the foundation of all social skills. Additional benefits experienced by music therapy clients include enhanced neurological processing created by working with rhythm and emotional expression through singing and instrument playing. Several goals can be addressed at once, bringing unity to the therapeutic process and making it beneficial either as a stand alone therapy or as a complement to existing therapies.
Children with Autism, Rhett’s Syndrome, William’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Intellectual Disabilities and many others have experienced the benefits of music therapy. Music therapists become board certified after completing a four year college degree and 1200 hours of clinical training studying research-based methods of using music to facilitate change in the client population of their choice. The American Music Therapy Association (www.amta.org) is a wonderful resource for more information about the benefits of music therapy.
Catherine de Mers, MT-BC, M.S. is a music therapist located in downtown New Orleans. More information on her services is located at www.neworleansmusictherapy.org or by calling (504) 330-1937.