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5 Basics of Music Therapy

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

What is music therapy? This post explains the five basics of music therapy in the simplest way possible for all people interested in music therapy. Not only will you have a clearer picture of what music therapy is, but also you will be able to share it with people around you.



1. Music therapy uses music to meet your needs

This is the most comprehensive answer to the question of what music therapy is. In any scenario, you would find a music therapist using music to help people.


The answer cannot be more detailed than this because people's needs vary and music varies. People's needs range from psychological, physical, spiritual, social, to communicative. Music therapy, then, considers how to use music; which to use, which instrument to use when to use, where to use, and how much to use. Music therapists' job is to tailor the use of music best suited for people's needs.



2. Music therapy is for people from all walks of life


Music therapy understands that we all have an innate musicality. That is why people can benefit from music therapy across the life span. Music therapists commonly work with people in need in areas of medicine, health care, education, social welfare, and elderly care. This often leads music therapists to specialise in a certain group/s of people based on age and health condition (disability/disorder/illness), such as children with learning disabilities, adults with mental health challenges, and elderly people with dementia.


3. Music therapy has different approaches


We all are different and our needs are different. Music therapy has developed different approaches to best meet people's needs. Here are some approaches to illustrate how they can differ from one to another.


Psychodynamic approach


This approach is best utilised for psychological needs (i.e. working on mental health, emotional support, psychological well-being).


The keyword is "unconscious". Unconscious matters because it can affect your mental health. It is almost like we have this "somebody" in us, who you are not necessarily aware of, doing unwanted things. Psychodynamic music therapy offers a space to be aware of this "somebody" in you so that you could live your life in the way you want it to be. It is about taking back control of your life. Music therapy at OKUKO is informed by this approach. (Psychodynamic Music Therapy)


Neurologic approach


This approach, known as neurologic music therapy, is 'the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system. It is for any population including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, mental health, and other neurological diseases' (The Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy)


Nordoff-Robbins approach


This approach uses music-making as an essential tool to meet a variety of people's needs. The pioneers in music therapy, Nordoff and Robbins, believed that everyone has the potential for music-making, or in their words, we all are "the music child". Although Nordoff and Robbins started to work with children in the 1950s, Nordoff-Robbins music therapists today work with children and adults of all ages. (Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy)



4. Music therapy enables a non-verbal, creative, intuitive way of communication


Communication is the most vital component in music therapy. You can express yourself through music that cannot be put into words. You can bang a tambourine to express "I am angry" without a word. Likewise, music therapists can communicate what we need to "say" in music. For example, your music therapist would play the guitar to accompany your singing to communicate "I am listening to you". And that can be truly a powerful therapeutic experience.


5. Music therapy does not require you to be skilled or experienced in music


Music therapy welcomes non-musicians. This is because music therapy focuses on your own musicality, rather than your music skill. We all are musical, in fact, have been always musical. In music therapy, there is no "wrong" or "right" way to play music. If playing music is not your thing but like listening to music is, listening to music together in a session can be useful to meet your needs. "5 Reasons Why Music Therapy Works for Non-musicians"




Would you like to see how OKUKO can support you to look after your mental health?


Please get in touch with us via contact form or email (kohesil@okuko-musictherapy.com).


The steps below would be then followed.


Book an Assessment Session

(We will suggest potential dates for an assessment session for you.)


Assessment Session/s

(An assessment session aims for both of us to see how music therapy could meet your needs. It would be helpful for us to know the reason/s why you would like to have music therapy. There would be also a chance for us to play music together.)


Consent Form

(After the assessment, if you agree to start a course of music therapy, we will ask you to fill in a consent form and will discuss a start date with you.)

Start Music Therapy





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