Music Therapy

About Music Therapy



  • Music Therapy at RCH is part of Allied Health and consists of a team of 5 Registered Music Therapists who provide clinical music therapy services to children and adolescents with a range of medical conditions. Most of the services are provided to inpatients.

    The team of professionally trained Music Therapists support infants, children and adolescents using targeted therapy sessions to assist with all aspects of their hospital experience.  The aim of Music Therapy is to use the experience of music to aid the patient in attaining, maintaining, or regaining optimum levels of functioning or adaptation in all areas of health and development. This is achieved through a range of face-to-face services, resourcing, and team participation.

    The Music Therapist engages that healthy part of the child to help him/her cope with the illness, disorder, disease or other medical crisis which has caused them to be hospitalised. Music Therapy is adaptable to any child, no matter how sick, disabled and regardless of age. Based on the child's medical and developmental status, the music can be employed in structured ways (songs, song-writing) to help contain or clarify emotions and empower the child.  Or it may be just framed (improvised instrument playing) to allow a totally free, but supported expression of emotion. In these ways the Music Therapist helps to alleviate tension and anxiety and aids pain control through re-focusing and/or relaxation.

    Music Therapists are registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association.  They are proficient musicians that undertake a tertiary course in training accredited with the Australian Music Therapy Association. 

    Goals

    At RCH, the goals of Music Therapy are to use the experience of music to aid the patient in attaining, maintaining, or regaining optimum levels of functioning or adaptation in all areas of health and development. This is achieved through a range of face-to-face services, resourcing, and team participation.

    1. Increase compliance with medical and therapeutic/developmental goals by:

    • Decreasing anxiety prior to and during procedures by providing age appropriate musical activities including live singing of nursery rhymes, or access to guitar hero and singstar games.
    • Decreasing agitation in Post Traumatic Amnesia by using the structured and predictable nature of familiar music to provide a contained experience.   
    • Encouraging increased participation in functional rehabilitation by providing an enjoyable context within which to complete the often repetitive nature of the tasks required.
    • Effecting mood.

    2. Build and maintain skills to sustain healthy development and relationships by:

    • Providing experiences of healthy peer interactions such as songwriting and group work for young people living with anorexia.
    • Encouraging parents to interact with their young infant using song.
    • Individual songwriting with adolescents experiencing cancer, providing a means of self expression that may assist in processing feelings about their journey.
    • Use of familiar music and activities to provide a conduit to the world outsidefor patients in isolation.

    3. Ease adjustment to illness/ hospitalisation by

    • Providing musical experiences that are familiar.
    • Assisting in adjustment to a more positive hospital experience for patients and families.
    • Working with patients experiencing chronic pain to develop skills for managing their ongoing pain.

    4. Promote Change of State contributing to a more positive recovery trajectory

    • Decreasing anxiety, fear, anger, agitation, distress and sadness.
    • Increasing understanding, acceptance and engagement with unfamiliar experiences within the hospital setting.
    • Coma Arousal.

    Philosophy

    Music Therapy is a service that works as part of a wider multi disciplinary team, intended to meet identified needs within the child as part of the family unit. The need may be related to the child's psychological, physical, social or developmental health and well-being / progress within the hospital environment.

    At RCH, the Music Therapists understand:
    1. Infant, Child and Adolescent development in the context of family centred care.
    2. That music has the potential to impact positively on the child and family. We work with the pre-existing healthy aspects of the child as the family knew them, as we know them and with them as a whole.
    3. That for any child under the age of 2 years, the preference may be that the Music Therapist works with the child through the parents or engages the child/parent dyad/triad or the entire family unit.
    4. That needs may be best met either individually, within the family unit, or as part of a peer group.
    We work in a way that makes use of the child's:
    1. Innate musicality
    2. Interest/enthusiasm
    3. Performance skill and
    4. Pre-existing social experience of music

    This allows us to work in a way that accommodates each individual health journey within the scope of what is undertaken.

    How can music help?

    Music is a familiar part of life for children in Australia. They are exposed to recorded music on radio, television, compact discs and mp3.  Many still share in making music at kindergarten and school.  Music is a part of a child's healthy life.

    The Music Therapist engages that healthy part of the child to help him/her cope with the illness, disorder, disease or other medical crisis which has caused them to be hospitalised.

    Music Therapy is adaptable to any child, no matter how sick, disabled and regardless of age.

    Based on the child's medical and developmental status, the music can be employed in structured ways (songs, song-writing) to help contain or clarify emotions and empower the child.  Or it may be just framed (improvised instrument playing) to allow a totally free, but supported expression of emotion. In these ways the Music Therapist helps to alleviate tension and anxiety and aids pain control through distraction and/or relaxation.
     Hospitalised children can control music - they can decide if they wish to participate, what they will do, how it will be done and when it will conclude.  Such freedom of choice is not available in many other aspects of hospitalisation.