Today I am going to talk about Creative Music Therapy (Nordoff-Robbins) and Improvisational Music Therapy. I will discuss the populations that can be served and how the practices are used.
Creative Music Therapy or also known as Nordoff-Robbins music therapy is a music therapy specialized method commonly used with children, adolescents, and adults with developmental disabilities. CMT was developed by music therapist Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins and utilizes the iso principle of meeting the clients where they are at developmentally. CMT serves to assess a clients communication and social interaction goals and reinforces play and joint attention behavior through the use of active music and movement experiences. CMT requires a music therapist and an assistance who is often training to become certified in the method. The primary MT or assistance spends the duration of the session interacting with the client, matching their responses musically either through instruments, movement, vocal play, or both. Clients are encouraged to respond to questions, communicate non-verbally through instrumental play, and listen and adjust to music being played. Nordoff-Robbins or CMT is less behavioral and more humanistic/exploratory and has recently morphed with Greenspan's DIR Floortime method. CMT (Nordoff-Robbins) music therapy is based out of New York University's music therapy program.
Improvisational music therapy is commonly used by many music therapist in clinical practice. I commonly use improvisational methods with autism clients to encourage communication skills, and give and take relationships. Improvisational methods can also be a great tool to assess a client therapeutically and serve as an outlet to express emotions that are not easy to express or in the client's unconscious. Dr. Kenneth Bruscia, former director/founder of Temple University's Doctoral program and mentor of my mentor, developed an assessment tool for MT clients in therapy called the Improvisation Assessment Profile (IAP). I utilize the IAP to explore and open up discussion about various issues occurring in a clients life including feelings, motivations, thoughts, etc. Improvisation is also beneficial in a group setting and can promote empowerment, group cohesion, assertiveness, and social interaction.
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