Since the outbreak of COVID-19 we have witnessed the world transform into a digital-based, virtual world of services. Like other music-based organisations around the world, Chiltern Music Therapy has been able to quickly adapt to provide music therapy sessions and community music projects safely and effectively online.
Identifying a need for more robust, systematic evaluation of these digital services and to assess the effectiveness of different types of music therapy provision, a comparative, qualitative study aimed to compare and explore the effects of remote digital music therapy, in-person therapy and multimodal combined music therapy delivery. This study demonstrated that although introduced as a temporary response to an emergency situation, digital music therapy could provide added therapeutic value (namely greater accessibility, consistency and flexibility) and provide a robust future basis for complementing in-person services.
Following an initial research project, Chiltern Music Therapy developed an accessible, flexible and innovative digital portal that enables people to engage with music therapy and community music online. Duet Portal has the capacity to hold individualized pre-recorded resources, music therapy home programs and sessions content as well as an interactive component to connect service-users with their therapists. This music therapy digital resource allows beneficiaries to access their therapy in a more accessible and flexible way, mitigating isolation and enhancing therapeutic outcomes.
Benefits of using Duet Portal according to beneficiaries include greater consistency of the therapeutic support throughout times of deep isolation like lockdown or long hospital stays, increased accessibility of some content throughout the week and in between in-person sessions, and greater flexibility to access this content at times convenient to the beneficiary’s timetable.
All beneficiaries responded positively to the experience of using Duet to support their music therapy sessions and therapeutic relationship. The digital portal aims to represent the therapeutic space in a digital way, with a very clear and easy-to-use layout. Beneficiaries said about the portal: “It's beautiful, I love the simplicity and peacefulness - so cool and beautifully designed”, and that it felt “very welcoming, light and positive”.
Security and accessibility are other important elements of Duet, following GDPR guidance to ensure data protection, as well as AXE standards of accessibility focusing on providing users access to the same experience and information, regardless of the impairments they may have.
Duet was developed following a white label and open source approach. This means that all findings and processes of the development are openly accessible, and organisations with an interest in using Duet will be able to do so, with training and support from Chiltern Music Therapy.
We are very excited to have developed and implemented this innovative technological tool, purely informed by beneficiaries and therapists’ needs and experiences. We anticipate Duet will become a very valuable resource to provide more accessible, flexible, consistent, cost effective and above all therapeutically beneficial provision than purely in-person or remote services alone.