According to the American Music Therapy Association, “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.”
Phew. That’s a mouthful. Most people realize that music has been used as a therapeutic tool since antiquity, and music therapy addresses physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Children with ADHD can especially benefit from the calming and social aspects of music therapy.
In music therapy sessions, clients will sing, dance or move, create, or listen to music. For children with ADHD, moving to music can be a way to release energy or become more aware of his body (the latter is especially helpful for those children with ADHD who also have sensory issues). Singing and creating music is an excellent chance for self-expression, and group singing and music-making also helps improve confidence around peers with ADHD or not. Listening to music can help promote relaxation and provide a non-threatening way for a child with ADHD to calm down. All these techniques learned in music therapy sessions can also be applied to other areas of a child’s life.
One common misconception about music therapy is that a child with ADHD or other need must have musical talent or experience. The joy of music therapy is that there is no prior music experience needed, and trained music therapy professionals know how to make successful and positive musical experiences for their clients.
Many parents of children with ADHD see that their children are very creative, and music therapy helps harness and release that imaginative potential. Additionally, music therapy can help reach academic and social goals. For example, rhythmic exercises help increase attention and motor control for children with ADHD.
One inspiring aspect of music therapy is that since it is a fun experience for most children with ADHD, it is a non-threatening therapy, and many children with ADHD are reaching therapeutic goals without necessarily feeling like they are in therapy. Children with ADHD are often open to music therapy, and they can then get a great deal of benefit from the sessions.
Some schools include music therapy as a part of the IEP team. If you are interested in searching for music therapy for your child with ADHD, visit the American Music Therapy Association’s Find a Music Therapist directory or e-mail [email protected].