Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Therapy

Strengthening Families: A Role for Music Therapy in Contributing to Family Centred Care

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Therapy

Strengthening Families: A Role for Music Therapy in Contributing to Family Centred Care

Article excerpt

Abstract

Sing & Grow is a music therapy programme funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government and presented in partnership with Playgroup Queensland and The University of Queensland, initially for a two-year period, but now with funding assured to 2007. The programme is a family based intervention for families with children aged birth to three years that uses music to strengthen parent-child relationships through increasing interactions and assisting parents to bond with their children, and to extend the repertory of parenting skills in relating to children through interactive play. This benefited the participants by engaging young children in developmentally stimulating activities while reinforcing to parents the importance of their active participation in assisting a child to meet developmental milestones. This paper reports the theoretical basis for this project, its implementation in the community sector, and issues in identifying the outcomes to date, including the use of attendance figures to support the value of the programme. The processes in this music therapy programme are indicated through the case vignettes presented.

Key Words: music and parenting; music therapy; music and early childhood; music and attachment

Introduction

Sing & Grow is music therapy programme presented within a family centred model, funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government and presented in partnership with Playgroup Queensland and The University of Queensland. The bid to offer the two-year, fully funded programme was proposed by the School of Music staff at The University of Queensland, who initiated and wrote the bid in response to a call from the Federal Government for new initiatives to promote family well being (1). The project provides Queensland families with children aged from birth to three years the opportunity to participate in a series of ten weekly music therapy sessions. This opportunity serves as an early intervention strategy to families in communities identified as at risk of marginalisation as a result of their socio-economic circumstances, including low income, single parenthood, young parenthood, drug and alcohol addiction, living with a disability, and being a member of a cultural minority.

Literature review

Families at Risk

Research has indicated that families identified as at-risk of marginalisation may experience circumstances that impact on their ability to bond and interact with their children (Kelly, Buehlman, & Caldwell, 2000; Morton & Brown, 1998). This in turn potentially impacts on future development, as the child's early life experiences and social environment have been linked to their later development (Field et al., 2000; Kelly, Buehlman, & Caldwell, 2000). These early experiences of interaction may also affect how the child interacts with others as an adult, including their own children, potentially contributing to a cycle of deprivation (Bradley, Cupples, & Irvine, 2002; Morton & Brown, 1998; Ramey et al., 2000). It is therefore important to ensure that a child's early life experiences include provision for a loving, safe, and supportive environment, as well as an environment in which the capacity for attachment and close bonding between parent and child is available and realised (Carr, 200 1; Stern, 1985).

The quality of family relationships, and the personal, social, and economic resources of the family, impact and entwine for individual physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development (Sanders, 1999). Negative, inconsistent parental behaviour and high levels of family adversity are associated with the emergence of problems in early childhood, and persistence of these problems to school age (Campbell, 1995; Shaw, Vondra, Dowdell-Hommerding, Keenan, & Dunn, 1994). In addition, while child maltreatment knows no economic and social boundaries, parental poverty is reported to be a risk factor for physical abuse. …

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