A Letter to Parents: Music Therapy for Your Child's Mental Health and Wellness
I’m a new Music Therapist in DFW - I received my music therapy degree at Belmont University in Nashville, TN and completed my 6-month clinical music therapy internship at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. There - I gained experience in music therapy treatment with kids of all ages/diagnoses and their families.
Music therapy meets individual goals through music interventions such as singing, instrument play, improvisation, lyric analysis and songwriting. In this hospital, whether it was premature babies in the NICU, a 10 year old in the oncology unit, or teens in the inpatient and outpatient units who had just attempted suicide, music therapy was applied with these patients and their families. Through working with these kids - I saw first hand the power that music therapy has in the medical setting. There are SO many researched benefits of music therapy with various populations, in various goal areas. Specifically in the medical setting, I saw how singing lullabies using the guitar and voice in the NICU affected physical parameters such as heart rate and respiratory rate, and saw the long term developmental effects on premature children. I saw how playing Let it Go at a 6 year old’s bedside increased their quality of life, development and allowed for a positive moment to occur in the hospital for that family. I also saw how analyzing “The Climb” lyrics by Miley Cyrus allowed for teens in the inpatient psychiatry unit to self-reflect and find self-worth and hope in themselves and their difficult journeys. Music has a different way of reaching the mind, body and soul, and music therapy does exactly that through evidenced based practices led by a board certified music therapist.
Because of my experiences in the hospital, I have in-turn grown passionate about child and teen mental health. Kids are struggling right now. In the hospital, we constantly had children who had attempted suicide or raised red flags during a suicide assessment on our waiting list for treatment. In my current practice, I see how 8 year olds struggle with regulating their emotions and not knowing how to cope. I see 13 year olds struggling with suicidal ideation and having no self-worth. There are plenty of factors that play into the decline of adolescent mental health and I’m sure I’d need hours to comb through them all - but the bottom line is kids don’t have the emotional awareness nor the tools to cope with day to day life. Because of my training, I know that music therapy can do just that - increase emotional awareness, increase the opportunity for self-expression, provide emotion education, and teach coping skills to kids in a way that is fun, non-threatening and creative. I often think of music as the backdoor; as the rapport builder and way to express how you're feeling without it being a daunting task. For the kids and teens I've worked with, music therapy is exactly what they never knew they needed.
I am currently seeing kids ages 8-18 individually working on these very mental health and wellness goals. Coming January, I am starting a music therapy group for teens that focuses on the self, and aims to increase self-awareness, self-worth, self-confidence and allow for self-expression through music. If you think this is the avenue your child needs, no matter where they're at in the journey, take a look at destinystudio.net/therapy
Music is commonly a "therapy" for ourselves, so it only makes sense that music therapy can be a complimentary treatment that catches kid's struggling with their mental health and wellness before they end up in a hospital bed, or worse. We are in a mental health crisis. My goal is to provide more opportunities for therapeutic care to the kids who need it most.
Dannielle Remek, MT-BC