Over the past decade, the potential of music-based therapy to aid in the development of sufferers of conditions such as autism has gained increased recognition.
Relatively speaking, music-based therapy is still in its infancy – in many countries, it has yet to be afforded official status from state medical bodies as a legitimate form of therapy. In Ireland, Eli Chaourdaki of Music Therapy Ireland is one of a small number of professionals who have the training to provide this progressive form of treatment.
Music Therapy combines psychology and the art of music to improve the quality of life of a person of any age and level of ability. Practitioners often use music-based methods to address a person’s physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs. The treatment differs from academic and skills-oriented training in that it focuses primarily on the client’s emotional behaviour, personal experiences and overall well-being. as Eli Chaourdaki explains, “the main issues clients struggle with are in the areas of communication, social interaction skills and creative thinking, but each client presents with different difficulties and different likes and dislikes. As a result, each programme of treatment varies from client to client.”
By using a variety of techniques (e.g. singing, instrument playing, movement to music, song-writing, song reminiscence, lyric analysis), music therapy works towards the goals that are specifically created for the individual or group, upon assessment of the clients’ strengths, needs and personal preferences.
A variety of techniques may be applied at a music therapy session, including clinical improvisation, music-based games, instrument playing (to enhance motor skills) and song writing and composition. The written word gives the therapist a window to the client’s mind/world and opens up a route on which to build a therapeutic relationship to further explore their feelings.
You can hear my interview with Eli Chaourdaki (as part of the short radio documentary “Music as Healer”) at the below link.