Beyond a Checklist: Development of a music therapy method for use with a population with developmental delays and physical disabilities
Date of Award
MA - Master of Arts
Music therapy has long been used within school settings, particularly within special needs populations. Until the late 1970s students with special needs were usually institutionalized with the belief that they were incapable of continued learning. Since then, music therapy has become a useful clinical medium to assess and aid in treating speech deficits, various cognitive impairments, and physical rehabilitation. This capstone thesis centered on how individuals with significant cognitive and physical impairment interact, communicate, and participate in everyday situations, specifically within a music therapy group setting. Overall, the observations show the usefulness of assessment as a music therapy tool as well as the importance to step back and observe each person’s individual communication clues and style. It reflects on how we, as music therapists, go beyond the assessment checklist, observe and deepen our practice and consider the impact that we can have on severe/profound individuals with physical disabilities. It is proposed that a way we bridge that gap would be to connect with eye movements, head nods, and body language cues in much the same way one would track rhythmic engagement in assessments. This would allow the practice of the music therapist to grow in their understanding and awareness of this population.
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Thomas, Andria, "Beyond a Checklist: Development of a music therapy method for use with a population with developmental delays and physical disabilities" (2018). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 92.
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