Music Therapy is a research based, Allied Health profession that is governed by Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA). The AMTA (2013) provide the following definition:
"Music therapy is the intentional use of music by a university trained professional who is registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc. Registered music therapists draw on an extensive body of research and are bound by a code of ethics that informs their practice.
Music therapists incorporate a range of music making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice. Music therapy is different from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing. Music therapists are committed to supporting people of any age and ability regardless of musical skill, culture or background."
Music therapists use music based activities to provide adults with disability (intellectual and/or physical) a range of sensory, cognitive and physical experiences whilst encouraging social interaction and communication.
These music based activities include: Song writing, instrumental play, improvisation (to create original musical pieces), singing, and listening to music. The musical relationships built in these activities can help to build self-esteem, motivation and confidence, along with supporting the development of non-verbal and emotional expression (AMTA, 2013).
In an aged care setting, music therapists work in collaboration with colleagues (such as doctors, nurses and social workers) to support aged clients and their families, helping to improve quality of life through physical, social, emotional and spiritual health.
Music is unique as it is able to engage the brain through an extensive set of processes that are preserved and functional, even when other abilities have declined. A great example of this is when people who are no longer able to speak are still able to sing (AMTA, 2013).
In a school setting, music therapy can be used to encourage the development of social skills, helping children who may be having difficulty engaging with their peers.
Music therapy programs are tailored to suit the needs of the clients, with the music therapist guiding students towards group and individual goals. It is more than just listening to music; music therapy is usually hands on, the therapist supporting the exploration of new instruments and sounds (AMTA, 2013).
Mark Fleming is a Registered Music Therapist working in the Sydney Area. Mark studied at the University of Western Sydney, graduating both his Undergraduate Degree (Bachelor of Music) and Masters Degree (Masters of Creative Music Therapy) with Distinction.
A vocalist, guitarist, and classically trained pianist, Mark has experience working with a number of client populations including: Aged Care, Children with Trauma, Autism, and Adult Disability.