How Music Therapy Can Help Anxious Children
One effective method of providing support for anxiety in children is music therapy, where music becomes the main tool the therapist uses to connect and work with the patient. This kind of therapy has been shown to be effective when treating children and young people living with anxiety based disorders.
After all, lots of young people love listening to music, and the music choices they make can be closely tied to their sense of self and identity. During times of stress and worry, research indicates that young people have an innate sense of the kinds of music they need to listen to.
It is also a particularly adaptable form of therapy. Research suggests that young people’s “passionate commitment” to songs and genres of music can shift depending on the situation.
A track like Taylor Swift’s Dancing with Our Hands Tied, for example, could be first heard as a love song, then as a break-up song, and then again as a song of triumph and survival. This demonstrates a complex and adaptable set of emotional interactions with music, and shows how it can offer support in ever changing situations.
A Music Therapy Session
In a music therapy session, the therapist might use a variety of accessible instruments, such as drums, small percussion instruments and keyboards, as well as apps to put together beats and loops, to make music with the child. Songwriting is also a good option, perhaps taking an existing song and changing the lyrics to fit the current situation, or composing an original song.
There are other proven benefits, too. A clinical trial called Music in Mind based in Northern Ireland used music therapy to individually treat children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs. It found improvements in communication, self esteem and social functioning.
Other studies have seen positive results in the combined use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and music therapy.
As well as its supportive value, music therapy can help young people develop their skills of emotional regulation – the mechanism which allows us to function in our daily lives, managing difficult situations by adjusting our emotional responses to events and feelings.
Developing emotional regulation skills is key to reducing the risks of psychological challenges later on, and can begin in early childhood with interactive musical play.
Here, the music therapist and child play games in which both take turns to be in charge of the music. Having the chance to signal “stop” and “go”, as well as choosing whether the music will be loud or soft gives the child a chance to see how it feels be in charge.
They are also able to explore how the differences in music make them feel. An American study using this method showed a considerable improvement in emotional regulation scores, suggesting that using music in playful activities can have very positive effects on young children.
It is clear, then, that there is potential for a spectrum of practice in the use of music to support children and young people who live with anxiety disorders.
Excerpted from “Here’s how music therapy can help anxious children” from the World Economic Forum. Read the full article.
Source: World Economic Forum | Here’s how music therapy can help anxious children, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/10/how-music-therapy-can-help-anxious-children | © 2019 World Economic Forum
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