Music Therapy

PCDA Music Therpay

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Music therapy is the enhancement of human capabilities through the planned use of musical influences on human brain functioning1. At PCDA, Music therapists work individually with children and their caregivers using a variety of rhythm and music-based techniques to engage children with others in purposeful and functional activities. Music Therapy experiences involve children in singing, listening, moving, playing instruments, and creative activities creating a familiar musical environment that encourages positive interpersonal interaction and allows clients freedom to explore and express themselves2.

In the treatment of children with developmental disabilities, neurological impairments, and autistic spectrum disorders, music therapy provides a unique opportunity to address and enhance development in the areas of communication, cognition, motor skills, and social-emotional development. Music Therapy at PCDA is child and family-centered with a specific focus on social emotional development and supporting parent child interactions.


How does music therapy make a difference for individuals with special needs and their families?

Music therapy can be effective in addressing developmental needs in the following ways:

  • Rhythm and music may be used to support development in many areas, including: communication skills, attention and interaction, and movement/motor skills.
  • Music provides concrete multi-sensory stimulation, through auditory, visual, tactile and proprioceptive senses. The rhythmic component of music is very organizing for the sensory systems and supports emotional and behavioral regulation. Auditory processing and other sensory-motor, perceptual/motor, gross and fine motor skills can be enhanced through music therapy.
  • Musical elements and structure provide a sense of security and familiarity in the music therapy setting, encouraging clients to attempt new tasks within this predictable but malleable framework.
  • Music builds trusting relationships, forming a strong basis for learning, self-expression, and communication.
  • Enhancing parent-child interactions is an integral aspect of music therapy sessions. Music may be a comfortable and very effective medium to support the parent-child relationship and the child s capacity in social interactions.
  • Music captures and helps maintain attention. It is highly motivating and can support sustained engagement and a flow of back-and-forth interactions.
  • Music therapy can enable those without language to communicate, participate, and express themselves non-verbally, through sounds, gestures, eye gaze and signs. Very often music therapy also assists in the development of verbal communication, speech, and language skills. The interpersonal timing and reciprocity in shared play, turn taking, listening, and responding to another person can accommodate to individual styles of communication.
  • Music therapy provides opportunities to organize affect and practice appropriate expression of various emotions.

What services do PCDA Music Therapists provide?

PCDA provides clinical music therapy services, music therapy consultation, and professional development education and training. Clinical services include assessment, treatment planning, and direct or consultative services for individuals with special needs and their families.

1Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy; Dale B. Taylor, Ph.D., MT-BC; MMB Music, Inc. 1997.

2Adapted from the American Music Therapy Association, Inc.

Music Therapy assessments
For further information on assessment options in this area, please contact Juliana Frias at 626-793-7350

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PCDA uses a multidisciplinary, developmental, family-centered approach in all services. With the exception of peer groups, our services actively involve parents or caregivers in every session.