080_RebeccaCenter06-2012In our work as music therapists we advocate every day by doing what we do: engage our clients in musical experiences, educating and supervising future music therapists, engaging in research opportunities, publishing and the list goes on and on. We do it (advocacy) with every note we play, each melody we sing and every life that we help to enrich through the power of music therapy! That being said, it’s so important for us to bring the work, the stories, the tales, the sights and the MUSIC into the ears and eyes to others.

The following is a story based on my clinical experience as a music therapist that took place during a parent meeting. Parent meetings generally take place 2 times per year and involve the music therapist meeting with the client’s parent or caregiver to discuss his/her music therapy progress and process. The meeting involves a closed door meeting in which the therapist and parent discuss the child’s treatment plan while reviewing clinical goals. This process also involves the therapist displaying clinic vide of the child participating in music therapy experiences.

(This excerpt is taken from an early post regarding music therapy parent advocacy)

Vignette: Jason is a seven-year-old boy diagnosed with autism who has been participating in individual music therapy sessions for six weeks at The Rebecca Center for Music Therapy. Following Jason’s sixth assessment session, a parent meeting is scheduled to discuss the assessment findings and develop an intervention plan. During the parent meeting, the therapist, Michael, prepares a video presentation and a written assessment report. Michael begins the meeting by orienting mom and dad on the Center’s overall music therapy approach within the context of their son, Jason. He also reviews and orients mom and dad to the assessment protocol, operational definitions, scoring system and the treatment planning process. In addition, Michael provides mom and dad with a verbal overview of how Jason has been doing throughout the first six assessment sessions during his music therapy sessions. Mom and dad appear to be interested and attentive while they listen, however, asking no questions. Michael then presents the parents with a series of clinical video vignettes. Mom and dad are fixated on the computer screen waiting for the video to play, seeming almost nervous of what they will see (this will be the first time that they actually see their son, Jason, in music therapy). The video plays. Within 30 seconds they begin to smile. Mom has tears rolling down her smiling lips. After the first clip, lasting about 3 minutes, both mom and dad, with full grins on their faces, express that they have never seen their son, Jason, so engaged in anything like he was on the video in music therapy (Hey, my music therapy friends, how many times have we heard that before?). After the video presentation, both mom and dad continue to point out how incredible it was to see Jason so connected to someone in a related and engaged manner. They both commented on how seeing Jason engaged in music therapy was like seeing an entirely different boy in the music room (if we music therapists had a nickel for every time those words were spoken we’d have a whole lotta nickels!).

As the parent meeting continued, Michael asked mom and dad about Jason’s other therapies. Mom explained that Jason has occupational therapy (OT) 3 hours per week, speech therapy (ST) 4 hours per week, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) 15 hours per week and now music therapy (MT) 30-minutes per week. (Jason’s parents pay out of pocket his music therapy services while his other therapies are reimbursable by the school district). Mom stared at the ceiling for a moment and began to emphasize that if you add up all of the hours for the year (based on 40 weeks) that Jason is in therapy the breakdown would be:

Occupational Therapy = 120 hours

Speech Therapy = 160 hours

Applied Behavioral Analysis= 600 hours

Music Therapy = 20 hours

Michael and Jason’s dad both seemed amazed by the breakdown in numbers. Michael said, “ya know, I never thought of it like that before.” Dad replied with, “It’s amazing. Jason is in music therapy for only 30 minutes per week and he seems to get so much out of it in such a short period of time. ““Why it is it so difficult to find reimbursement for music therapy services when it clearly helps kids!”Michael replied, “That’s a great question, and I think that it’s one worth asking Jason’s district as well your friends and family. Parents can be terrific advocates for our profession.” Mom replies, “Yeah, absolutely. I think we need to have a conversation with the district this week.”

How many music therapists have experienced similar stories in which parents or colleagues from other disciplines are amazed by the work that we do? – Too many to even count!

Every minute of the day, throughout the globe, a music therapy session is enhancing the lives of countless individuals. It’s amazing! We are so lucky to be a part of this awesome profession.

For more information on music therapy please visit:

American Music Therapy Association

The Rebecca Center for Music Therapy

Developmental Health Music Therapy Services

Barcelona Publishers (Music Therapy Books)

Feel free to email us at info@DMHmusictherapy.com.


John Carpente, Ph.D., MT-BC, LCAT