Client Population Information

Music therapists work with a wide range of people with varying needs and abilities. Throughout the years Cottonwood Music Therapy has served many populations such as Early Childhood Education, Children with Special Needs, Trauma, Veterans, Memory Care, Pediatric Oncology, Adult Oncology/General Hospital, and People Experiencing Houselessness. Beyond music therapy, Cottonwood has expanded into the digital age offering a variety of video lessons and workshops. These services are available worldwide! You can learn more at the Virtual Learning Page.

Methods & Techniques 
Information on Music Therapy for different populations from the American Music Therapy Association 

Autism Spectrum

- Music therapy interventions use research, evidence and incorporate many of the identified ASD-specific evidence-based practices in each session (Kern, Rivera, Chandler, & Humpal, 2013).

- Music therapy services for young children with ASD are very effective for improving communication, interpersonal skills, personal responsibility, and play (Whipple, 2012).

- Music therapy interventions may elicit joint attention (Kalas, 2012); enhance auditory processing, other sensory-motor, perceptual/motor, or gross/fine motor skills (LaGasse & Hardy, 2013); and identify and appropriately express emotions (Katagiri, 2009).

- Music therapy interventions based on familycentered practice may increase social engagement in the home environment and community (Thompson, McFerran, & Gold, 2013)

- Music therapy interventions using musically adapted social stories may modify target behavior and teach new skills (Brownell, 2002).

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Young Children

- Music stimulates all of the senses and involves the child at many levels. This “multimodal approach” facilitates many developmental skills.

- Quality learning and maximum participation occur when children are permitted to experience the joy of play. The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently.

- Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect. Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves.

- Music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations.

- Music can encourage socialization, self-expression, communication, and motor development.

- Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.

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Alzheimer's Disease 

- Memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life

- Positive changes in mood and emotional states Sense of control over life through successful experiences - Awareness of self and environment which accompanies increased attention to music

- Anxiety and stress reduction for older adult and caregiver

- Nonpharmacological management of pain and discomfort

- Stimulation which provokes interest even when no other approach is effective

- Structure which promotes rhythmic and continuous movement or vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation

- Emotional intimacy when spouses and families share creative music experiences

- Social interaction with caregivers and families

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Crisis & Trauma 

- Non-verbal outlets for emotions associated with traumatic experiences

- Anxiety and stress reduction Positive changes in mood and emotional states

- Active and positive participant involvement in treatment - Enhanced feelings of control, confidence, and empowerment

- Positive physiological changes, such as lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and relaxed muscle tension - Emotional intimacy with peers, families, caregivers - Relaxation for family groups or other community and peer groups

- Meaningful time spent together in a positive, creative way

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Special Education

- Music Therapy is considered a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

- When music therapy is deemed necessary to assist a child benefit from his/her special education, goals are documented on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) as a related service intervention.

- Music therapy can be an integral component in helping the child with special needs attain educational goals identified by his/her IEP team. 

- Music therapy interventions can address development in cognitive, behavioral, physical, emotional, and social skills. Music therapy can also facilitate development in communication and sensorimotor skills.

- Music therapy can offer direct or consultant services as determined by the individual needs of the child.

- Music therapists can support special education classroom teachers by providing effective ways to incorporate music into their academic curriculum.

- Music therapy involvement can stimulate attention and increase motivation to participate more fully in other aspects of the educational setting.

- Music therapy interventions apply the inherent order of music to set behavioral expectations, provide reassurance, and maintain structure for children with special needs. - Music therapy can adapt strategies to encourage a child’s participation in the least restrictive environment.

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Mental Health

- Explore personal feelings and therapeutic issues such as self-esteem or personal insight

- Make positive changes in mood and emotional states - Have a sense of control over life through successful experiences

- Enhance awareness of self and environment

- Express oneself both verbally and non-verbally

- Develop coping and relaxation skills

- Support healthy feelings and thoughts

- Improve reality testing and problem solving skills Interact socially with others

- Develop independence and decision making skills - Improve concentration and attention span

- Adopt positive forms of behavior

- Resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships

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