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What is music therapy?

Australian Music Therapy Association logo

Music therapy is a research-based allied health profession in which music is used to actively support people as they aim to improve their health, functioning and well-being. It can help people of all ages to manage their physical and mental health and enhance their quality of life.

Close up of djembe drums being played

You don’t need to be musical to take part in or benefit from music therapy. Qualified music therapists plan and provide musical experiences for their clients. Each session is tailored to the needs and goals of the client.

Music therapists are committed to supporting people of any age, ability or background. They work across the full age spectrum from newborn children through to older adults. (Australian Music Therapy Association)


Individual Music Therapy for Children

"Let the music speak to the child & let the music guide the child."

Open channels of communication

Gives children opportunities to express themselves in their own way

Share, interact, and take turns with others

What can children experience during the sessions? 

  • Non-threatening communication with music as a medium of conversation

  • Musical engagement (deep musical experience with feelings and emotions)

  • Working with others

Music therapist playing guitar while the client plays the chimes

What kind of music is used during the sessions? 

  • Improvised music to create real conversation, to match children’s mood and to follow children’s needs

  • Pre-composed music and familiar songs for children also used

A child singing into the microphone

How does the therapist use improvised music, and what happens?

  • The therapist will meet and engage the child by improvising to reflect their mood

  • This can give the child the experience of his/her mood being met & understood in music

  • From this, the child may respond to the music, and improvisation can be prolonged to maintain interaction

a child playing bells with Izumi, music therapist playing guitar

Music therapy concentrates on developing life skills through music.

How is the session program decided?

  • From children’s current needs, not just children’s ability

  • From children’s motivation

  • Each program fits each child

How does the therapist use improvised music, and what happens?

  • Coping with frustration

  • Understand own and others’ feelings

  • Social confidence

  • Sensory processing


Individual Music Therapy for Adults

Music beyond words – it is often difficult to put our feelings and emotions into words, but music expresses the feelings that do not even realise within ourselves. The emotion is aroused from the darkness and brought to the light, through improvised music and also creative use of pre-composed music.


Clients take the initiative in creating music together with the therapist. It may start with just one beat on the drum, a clash on the cymbal, piano, or vocalisation and it may gradually develop further.


Through this music we explore deep in the mind beyond words and find our unique “self”. Therapy is always found by the clients themselves via music. It is a cathartic experience to find true-self through music-making.

A music therapy session with chimes
Close up of a man singing into a microphone

Group Music Therapy

Group session consists of individual members with diverse needs and abilities, however, all the group members share a common enjoyment of music and a sense of unity with others through music.


The goal is to provide a musical environment that has the capacity to receive each client where they are at in that particular moment and allow that individual the opportunity to musically resonate with him/herself and others.


The clients can feel accepted, safe and able to express themselves free from judgment by being united with others in music. As the group grows cohesion through music, it will form a small musical community.

Two adults sitting and laughing while playing drums
Close up of tuned coloured bells and a snare drum
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