Work with a music therapist
Music therapists draw upon the innate qualities of music to support people of all ages and abilities and at all stages of life.
The British Association for Music Therapy describe music therapy in the following way: ‘Central to how much therapy works is the therapeutic relationship that is established and developed, through engagement in live musical interaction and play between a therapist and client. Music therapists work through music to support their clients achieve therapeutic goals through the development of the musical and therapeutic relationship. The music therapist does not teach an individual how to play instruments, and there is no prerequisite to ‘be musical’ in order to access music therapy. Music therapists work with a range of musical styles and genres including free improvisation to offer appropriate, sensitive and meaningful musical interaction their clients. Using music in this way enables clients to create their own unique musical language in which to explore and connect with the world and express themselves.’
Music therapy is an established psychological intervention which is delivered by music therapists, who are allied health professionals and are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Because musical participation and response does not depend on the ability to speak, it can be particularly effective for those who experience difficulty communicating verbally. Depending on the needs of the individual, music therapy can be tailored to offer a social experience with others or it can provide the sanctuary of a more private experience.
For a person living with dementia, music therapy engages health parts of the brain to address the secondary effects of the illness, such as loss of confidence and self-worth, low mood and feelings of frustration, irritability and anxiety. It offers a space in which to be heard and for emotions to be expressed in the safety of a therapeutic environment. Music therapists work with people living with dementia to support inevitable losses and look for appropriate ways to use music to meet their psychological needs.
Music therapists work as part of a multidisciplinary team and will liaise with other professional working with a person living with dementia to provide a holistic, joined-up approach to their care. They may offer joint sessions with other health professionals and carers to meet specific aims and goals, such as physiotherapists, nurses, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists.