Welcome to the third post in the Music Therapy 101 for the Newly Diagnosed series. Be sure to check out my other posts in the series and comment with any thoughts or questions.
Now that you know that music therapy is something you want to explore for your child, how do you go about finding a therapist that fits for you?
Finding a music therapist that is a fit for your child is no different than the ‘shopping’ you did to select their pediatrician, there just are not as many music therapists as there are pediatricians (but wouldn’t it be lovely if there were!).
Ask Around: If there are any support groups (like Family Connection here in Columbia), you can ask if they know of a music therapist in the area. You can also speak to other parents you may know, or ask other therapists or doctors you may see. If the music therapist has networked with a variety of professionals, your developmental pediatrician might even have a recommendation. This is also a good way to find out who others may recommend if there are multiple music therapists in the area.
Go Online: The wonders of living in our time! Local music therapists are available to you at the click of a button. If your music therapist has a web presence, you can likely use Google and type in “music therapy” and the name of your state or town. (Example: I am first when you search “music therapy Columbia south Carolina”)
You can also find a local music therapist by using the Find a Music Therapist tool with the American Music Therapy Association.
Talk to the Therapist: I am a firm believer that any therapist worth their salt will provide a thorough overview of their services, answer your questions, and let you get to know them a bit before you commit to them. Even music therapists are individual people, and sometimes a person gets along with a certain individual better than another. In therapy, the relationship is vital, so make sure that your proposed music therapist is someone that you can work long term with, respect as a professional, and that they respect you as a client!
Read Your Child’s Reactions: For some children with autism, change of any type will be difficult, so the initial reaction may not seem positive. One child I worked with completely disregarded me and the music until their insightful mother joined in on the sessions. Turns out, the child didn’t appreciate being separated so abruptly from Mom and needed to be eased into her absence. It had nothing to do with my abilities as a therapist!
I hope some of these tips help you to find a music therapist. Also, if you know a music therapist in one area, but need services in another, ask them! Being in a small field enables music therapists to reach out to one another. Odds are, we can find someone for you!