Digital Music Therapy: Is it still relevant?

Music therapy is reliant on connection, meaningful interaction and collaborative working, so how do these qualities translate when the therapist and client are in separate locations, communicating through a screen?  

During COVID-19 many of our existing clients were faced with a multitude of challenges, which included prolonged isolation and shielding to protect their health. To ensure that vulnerable clients still had the opportunity to attend sessions, Chiltern introduced digital music therapy, providing sessions safely and effectively online. Whilst online music therapy may differ from traditional in-person sessions, the underlying principles of music therapy remain the same and our music therapists are guided by the therapeutic aims and goals for each individual. 

Over the last two years, we have continued developing this service, delivering digital sessions, providing home programmes and pre-recording content for our clients. We have found that working in this way can be highly effective and have also noted improvements in Chiltern’s environmental impact! 

We additionally recognise that the digital world of music therapy has its challenges. Not everyone has access to instruments and resources at home and having a private space in shared accommodation is not always feasible. Communication can also be tricky online, particularly when technical glitches are thrown into the mix! Much like in-person sessions, our therapists have learnt to adapt and be flexible according to the client’s needs, ensuring that any potential barriers are regularly identified and discussed.

Face to face services at Chiltern are now continuing as normal, however, we still offer digital music therapy as an option for all of our clients and run a variety of group and individual sessions online. If you are interested in learning more about this work, please get in touch.

Claire’s Digital Music Therapy 

Claire was referred to music therapy in June 2020  “to help brighten up her world” after a recent diagnosis of Rett Syndrome. During this time Claire was also shielding in her home due to COVID-19; accessing music therapy hoped to enrich Claire’s quality of life and mental wellbeing. For Claire to safely participate in music therapy, sessions were offered online via Zoom with Neurologic Music Therapist, Sabina. Since then, Claire has been attending digital music therapy for over two years, working on therapeutic aims and goals in the comfort of her own home.

In sessions Claire has participated in a range of activities including the use of familiar songs, joint improvisation, musical reflection and sensory stories. Claire has also been working on functional use of her eye gaze to strengthen her means of communication. During an interview with Chiltern, Claire’s primary carer, Lins described the impact she has observed since Claire began her music therapy:

“Music therapy with Sabina has been so beneficial. It's increased Claire's wellbeing, given her a bit more quality of life and really, really helps with her mental health. She just beams. We've been thrilled that we've been able to access music therapy, enabling her to gain as much control over her life as possible”

Despite living over 100 miles away from each other, Claire and Sabina have established a meaningful and collaborative therapeutic relationship - all through the power of digital music therapy. Recently,

Exciting, Sabina recently had the opportunity to meet Claire in person for the very first time!

Claire and Sabina meeting in person for the first time

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