Music Therapy in times of Covid-19

Music therapy is an established, research-based health profession. In Europe, more than 6,000 certified music therapists work in health and community institutions, schools, nursing homes or private practices, with a wide range of client groups across the entire age range – from infants to the elderly.

Music therapists work with people with learning disabilities, autism or behavioural disorders, depression and severe mental health problems, trauma and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, in hospice care, neuro disability, in prisons and other settings.

A well-trained music therapist supports clients musically and psychologically, stimulating development or change according to individual needs. The use of music therapy is effective, cost-efficient and contributes to a holistic care plan.

Music therapy clinical sessions (in person)

During the pandemic crisis many music therapy venues are closed, although some music therapists are able to continue as usual. In the case of in person therapy, the musical instruments and the environment are disinfected before and after each session. Most wind instruments are not used due to the increased risk of infection. For a greater sense of safety, clients can bring their own instruments to sessions if they wish. It is important that therapists and clients wash their hands and observe physical distancing guidelines. Music therapists can also offer live sessions through windows or from a garden, to keep sufficient distance from vulnerable participants. This way of working can limit the possibilities of in person music therapy, but can also be of great value to isolated people.

Remote sessions (by phone or online)
Music therapists can offer remote sessions over the phone or online, using secure software programs. There must be a clear privacy policy regarding the choice of program and the way it is used. Music therapists offer this service to ensure continued support, and it is not intended as a permanent alternative to ‘live’ sessions. In online sessions, it may not be possible to offer music therapy exactly as usual. Making music online is often difficult because of the delay and poor sound quality, but some possibilities can work well.

Here are some examples:
• Songwriting and composing music (a crisis can surprise us with creative impulses!)
• Adding lyrics to instrumental music or loops
• Receptive music therapy, including sharing
playlists or watching videos together
• Turn-taking – making musical dialogues
• Singing and accompanying vocals while one
microphone is turned off
• Reflecting verbally on the music made and
feelings that arise during the crisis

Text: Albert Berman

GMLBy GMLNovember 13, 20213 Minutes