How can Music Therapy help?
Emotional - Behavioural Difficulties
in Children and Adolescents
Are you or someone else concerned about your child’s behaviour?
Has your child experienced a significant trauma that has affected their behaviour or their emotional well being?
Has there been a noticeable shift or change in their behaviour or emotional well being?
If you answered 'Yes' to any of these questions, then Music Therapy can help.
Emotional and behavioural difficulties are quite common in children and adolescents and can manifest in many ways: anger, withdrawal from family, social isolation, lack of self-concept and self-esteem, aggression, failure at school, running away, alcohol and/or drug abuse, and even suicidal tendencies.
Children who struggle with their emotions feel often overwhelmed in their everyday lives. The causes of such distress can be complex and the issue itself can be secondary to a primary problem. For example, a child with a learning disability could be suffering from years of frustration with learning; this may generate a frustration with themselves and the system and lead to emotional and behavioural difficulties. An adult with little self-confidence could have been chided as a child and made feel inadequate; this could have a long-term negative impact on the person’s self-esteem and worth.
Ups and downs are part of normal growing up. Emotional difficulties that significantly impact on a child’s or indeed an adult’s ability to behave and act in an appropriate manner, are cause for concern and need to be addressed, in a non-threatening way... One of them, is through Music Therapy.
Undoubtedly, music enables expression. Children and adolescents usually relate extensively to the music of their peer culture and they react positively to it; it is a familiar medium to them. This means that music can often be the only communication tool that produces results in instances of emotional and behavioural upset. Music encourages people to open up and share feelings of anger, rage, grief, isolation, shame, guilt and inner turmoil.
Music Therapy is a proven successful intervention for redressing emotional and behavioural difficulties. It provides a creative, non-threatening and non-intrusive environment which helps to break down inhibitions.
It is an intervention that does not rely solely on on language and can emotionally affect clients at a deeper level than is possible with words alone, helping them to express their thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is an excellent resource to use when reaching out to people who lack the ability to communicate verbally or whose self-expression is inhibited.
When applied in a group setting, Music Therapy promotes connection and interaction and helps the participants move from a sense of isolation to a sense of belonging. It provides a common starting place for discussion, self-disclosure and cooperation.
The purpose of using music as an intervention for addressing emotional and behavioural difficulties is to introduce a sense of calmness and empowerment to the person’s life; to encourage participation; and to replace repression with acceptance and freedom of expression, in an encouraging and productive manner.
Music Therapy is being successfully used to help children and adolescents with emotional difficulties:
• Express themselves in an appropriate manner
• Expand their capacity to respond, relate and communicate
• Adopt appropriate social behaviours
• Experience group identity, cohesion and purpose through using a ‘common’ language – their music
• Facilitate self-regulation of impulsive and inappropriate behaviour
• Enhance relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
• Develop positive self-concept and improve self-esteem and self-awareness
• Develop new skills, both musical and non-musical
• Enjoy new musical experiences and expression and enhance their quality of life.