For those who struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), treatments take many different forms. Amongst these is music therapy - a form of expressive therapy that uses audio to help channel emotions. In this article, we take a closer look at its unique benefits for children and how to get started.
What Is Music Therapy?
In a nutshell, music therapy is the practice of using audio tools to help convert difficult thoughts and feelings into a coherent new language. This typically takes one of two forms - either creating the music itself or listening to music whilst performing a creative activity. Either of these techniques can be carried out in a group or one on one with a therapist. You don’t need pre-existing expertise with an instrument - often, exercises can be carried out with simple equipment, such as bongos, recorders, xylophones, etc., within a relaxed, controlled environment.
Benefits of Music Therapy
For those of us with ADHD, music can help to improve structure in our thinking. Most songs feature a beginning, middle, and end, and most also have predictable beats - this, in turn, can allow us to more easily organize rudimentary thinking.
New Method Wellness notes that ADHD minds also tend to have lower levels of dopamine - the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, attention, working memory, and focus. Music can help boost our motivation and ability to focus by engaging the entire brain.
Types of Music Therapy
Within the two frameworks we have already outlined, there are multiple subsets of music therapy that could provide benefits for you or your child. For example, whilst music can help a child to maintain focus, you may need to try different styles before you find one that works.
● Active Music Therapy (AMT): AMT involves musical improvisation between patient and therapist (this could include singing/playing instruments) to help the patient become more active, focused, and alert.
● Analytical Music Therapy (AMTA): This is an advanced form of therapy that aims to establish a dialogue through instruments/singing and, afterwards, a discussion with a therapist.
● Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): GIM, otherwise known as the Helen Bonny method, combines music, mental imagery, and positive reinforcement to process and navigate experiences, as well as explore the child’s imaginative potential.
● Receptive Music Therapy (RMT): This technique encourages the child to listen to music (whether live or recorded) and respond to their experience. Sometimes, this is carried out in a more targeted way - with particular sounds aimed to relax or stimulate particular emotions/physical responses.
You may also want to take your child to choose an instrument of their own. Giving them ownership over this extraordinary facet of life may help them later in life and provide them with a method to manage thinking challenges independently.
Integrating Music Therapy
Even if your schedule is already packed out, it’s possible to tactfully integrate music therapy in a way that benefits both you and your child. With the right plan of attack, you can ensure quality time spent with your children and reduce pressure to learn music and read. Try to use music to improve focus during homework sessions, relax the mood before bedtime, and associate with positive activities.
Create a Relaxing Space for Music Therapy
Creating a relaxing spot in your home for music therapy can be just the thing to help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Setting up an area specifically dedicated to calming sounds and activities has numerous benefits. Start by creating a clutter-free, well-lit space with comfortable furniture and plenty of room to relax. Adding comfortable lighting can further create a serene atmosphere. With a little effort, you’ll have a perfect space for music therapy.
If you plan on creating a multifunctional space, be sure to document any work you complete by keeping receipts for expenses. It’s possible that upgrading your home could raise its value.
Music therapy is an increasingly popular, effective strategy for coping with ADHD, and its various applications are still being discovered. If you’re new to the idea, take some time to explore its benefits and see if these might positively apply to you and your child.
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exclusively written for TheMSQShop.com
by Riley Jada