Collaboration sessions are a recent addition to the offerings of the Harrison Center team. Why? Music therapy is effective and motivating on its own and is a great enhancement to the other services your child is receiving.

A typical individual music therapy session already entails the music therapist working on goal areas that are shared with or inspired by the goals written by the patient’s speech, physical, or occupational therapy goals and adding the musical cuing component. By adding a collaborative session where the music therapist can work with one of those other therapies at the same time, the client reaps the benefits of having the treatment team working in tandem to ensure that there is maximum support designed to help the client meet their goals.

Even when it’s explained or broken down technically, a collaborative session can be confusing until it’s observed or explained from the perspective of each different intervention and the role each therapist plays throughout the session. Some examples are provided below of what to expect during a collaborative session between a music and speech, occupational, or physical therapist.

1. Collaboration sessions have a structure that sets them apart from individual sessions and look different through the lens of each therapy discipline.

The collaboration sessions typically happen during the other therapist’s session. The music therapist will step in for a portion of the already scheduled session with the other therapist to provide musical support for whatever they are working on that particular day.

We review treatment goals and discuss the session with the other therapist beforehand to go over the goal areas that will be targeted in the session. This allows us to sync up with what the other therapist is wanting to target so that we can prepare the musical component of the session accordingly.

A physical therapist may assist the patient in the physical components of balance, coordination, gait and endurance while at the same time, the music therapist may match the exercise with a regular rhythmic beat as well as other musical cuing for entrainment. By matching the body’s movement with an auditory cue, duration of an exercise increases, perception of fatigue decreases, and movement becomes more fluid and organized.

For a child who has a speech delay, a licensed speech language pathologist will identify certain physical and neurological components with which the child is having difficulty. The speech therapist and music therapist will work together to design music-based interventions to address the specific impairment. This may look like composing a song that incorporates certain syllables that are being targeted and repeated within the song lyrics, certain rhythms that address and cue various motor coordination, and certain note durations to improve breath support.

A child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulty with the daily routine of dressing and undressing. An occupational therapist may work with the child to incorporate certain adaptations, such as adding velcro or elastic to clothing to make changing easier. A music therapist may then compose a song with lyrics that include step-by-step directions   through mneumonics for how to open and close the velcro on the child’s jacket. 

2. Both therapists are working together side by side, but we each have a discipline-specific role to play in the collaboration sessions.

The music therapist has prepared and will lead the music component based on the goal areas that both therapists agreed to address and focus on in the session. The other therapist is using their expertise in their respective field to do things such as help provide hand-over-hand or full physical assistance, additional verbal or speech cueing prompts and facilitating turn-taking and social skills. This unique aspect of collaboration sessions highlights the importance of all therapy disciplines involved and allows both therapists to work together to focus on supporting the patient in their journey to meet their goals.

Every therapy discipline has a scope of practice that they must follow.Each therapist has received extensive schooling, continuing education, specialized training and credentials in order to practice in their chosen field. This specialized education gives us each a unique part to play as a member of a patient’s treatment team and shapes each therapists role in the sessions.

Even though music therapists wouldn’t discourage another therapist from singing “wheels on the bus” or any other songs or music in their sessions, the role of a music therapist cannot be replaced or duplicated in the same way through another therapy discipline cannot be duplicated by a music therapist.

3. It’s a lot of fun!

Music has many beautiful ways of impacting brain functioning, making goal-oriented therapy tasks and activities seem more like play.

This collaborative process is also fun for the therapists involved. We get to support one another’s professions and approaches to better support your child or loved one – and we love it!

The Harrison Center for Music Therapy has core values that include a team approach and communication, which are two major components of collaboration. These collaborative sessions are a new and rewarding addition to the client service offerings of the Harrison Center team. By supporting other therapeutic approaches and working with other members of a patient’s treatment team within the same session, we are able to come together to create collaborative approaches to better help our patients meet their goals.