Music Therapy with Children and Their Families

Article excerpt

Music therapy with children and their families Editors: Amelia Oldfield & Claire Flower Athenaeum Press, Gateshead, UK, 2008 ISBN 978-1-84310-581-7

Oldfield and Flower's book describes the music therapy work of several music therapists with various children and their families. The experience of the contributors is documented both in the theoretical sense, and in the practical sense in every chapter presented. The book has ten chapters which cover work in various populations such as The Learning Disabled Toddler, The Autistic Child, The Traumatized Child, The Child in the Psychiatric Unit, as well as the Palliative Care Child. Each contributor outlines the philosophies by which they operate as well as the interventions they used in the sessions.

The book has the underlying principle that family therapy is an effective intervention in many settings. Children do not operate in a vacuum; therefore, involving family members in music therapy sessions is a viable option for treatment. The interactions between family members can be observed. And from observation, interventions are no longer isolated to the client, but, are more global in their support, when the child and their family members are included. By creating a safe environment for communication, the music therapists provide an opportunity for family members to connect through rhythm, pulse and melody, pitch, and timing.

The music therapy techniques and philosophies of Nordoff & Robbins techniques are referred to, as well as other methodology, which is outlined in the various case studies. One of these is working as co -therapists as described in Chapter 2. Two registered music therapists work together in a group designed for parents and babies or toddlers. The focus of the group is on interactive music -making. This includes sharing instruments, movement and dance as well as lap songs. When parents are involved with their children it is noted that "it is enormously beneficial for their attachments relationship and development of social interaction skills. Basic parenting skills can be nurtured in this environment, including mother -baby play and communication, boundary setting, managing behaviours and feeling states. These can be subtly developed through creative and interactive music, movement and play" (p. 39). The sessions can provide specialized support for the families where difficulties are apparent. …