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Patient and family resources
Patient and family resources

Music Therapy

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is a discipline in which credentialed professionals (MTA*) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being. Music therapists use music safely and ethically to address human needs within cognitive communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.

*Music Therapist Accredited/Musicothérapeute accrédité

What can music therapy do?

Music therapy can help the whole person: body, mind and spirit. Through making and responding to music, benefits may include:

  • Expressing emotion,
  • Expressing creativity,
  • Lowering pain and anxiety,
  • Helping to be more relaxed and to sleep; and
  • Making hospital stay more positive.

How does music therapy help?

We typically think of music as entertaining or fun. While this is true there are many other reasons why music can be therapeutic. No matter how young a person is, what language they speak, or if they can speak at all, music can help children communicate without words! Music can adapt to whatever the child is experiencing and is especially good at helping kids express their feelings.

What happens during a music therapy session?

A music therapist will use a variety of ways to connect with a child.  Sessions will focus on a child’s strengths and areas of interest.  Music therapy interventions may include:

    • Singing,
    • Song writing,
    • Playing instruments,
    • Storytelling,
    • Improvising (making up music),
    • Listening,
    • Relaxing; and
    • Drawing or moving to music.

Some caregivers like to observe or participate. Many caregivers choose to take a much-needed break during the session.

Who can work as a music therapist?

A music therapist’s education includes an undergraduate degree in music therapy or graduate music therapy degree. The music therapist completes added training while being supervised by a music therapist who has already been certified by the Canadian Association for Music Therapy. Therapists may also be Registered Psychotherapists within the Ontario College of Registered Psychotherapists.

What if my child is not musically inclined?

Music education or talent is not necessary in order to benefit from music therapy. The session will focus on the child or youth’s strengths and areas of interest.

How can my child receive music therapy?

Any member of the multi-disciplinary team or a parent can make a referral. To make a referral, speak with your child’s child life specialist, RN, physician, or social worker.

Questions about Creative Arts Therapy and Referrals?
Please contact: creativearts.therapy@sickkids.ca
Kimberly O’Leary, Professional Practice Lead - Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy