Developing a Model for Music Therapy With Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Many students suffering from emotional or behavioral disorders require specialized education and/or services to ensure their development and wellbeing. These may include increasing self-worth, developing self-concept/regulation skills, increasing socialization abilities, as well as decreasing symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Research has demonstrated that music can help address mental health outcomes for children and adolescents (McFerran, 2019). Unfortunately, the effectiveness of music-based strategies to improve treatment engagement and mental health outcomes among adolescents is often limited by a lack of randomized control trials evidence.
Due to this, there is a need for an effective model that provides guidance for practitioners using music-based strategies to promote treatment engagement and/or mental health outcomes for children and adolescents. Our systematic review, which included data from diverse clinical settings and populations, examined the literature on music-based interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disorders and identified several key themes to consider when creating a comprehensive and innovative model of music therapy practice with this population.
Students with emotional or behavioral disorders tend to have low levels of social competence, making them unable to form healthy relationships. Music can foster these competencies by improving interaction, raising group awareness, increasing self-esteem, and helping students recognize their strengths, weaknesses, values, and preferences.
Music therapy sessions can employ various behavioral strategies to encourage clients to demonstrate appropriate behavior for a specified duration, while rewarding them with preferred music activities. This could involve creating a schedule and implementing a reward chart.
Behavior strategies may involve activities such as singing, playing instruments, dancing, composing songs or listening to music or lyric analysis, guided imagery and guided writing. Through these activities the client learns how to express their feelings through their own personal experience which may increase self-confidence and reduce negative thoughts or behaviors.
Music has a special ability to socialize children with emotional disorders, who often struggle with negative peer relationships that can impede their progress. In music therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to interact with other children while playing instruments, singing along, or creating original songs of their own creation.
These techniques are usually included in a comprehensive treatment plan developed by the music therapist with input from other professionals. These goals and objectives guide music therapy sessions at schools, day cares, hospitals and residential treatment facilities.
Students with emotional and behavioral disorders, whether in traditional school settings, private or public schools, are likely to be exposed to the stress of academic work and pressure to meet certain learning standards. This pressure may cause them to display signs of anxiety, moodiness or depressive symptoms.