The Importance of a Music Therapy Assessment Form
Assessments are an integral part of music therapy treatment. They provide valuable data that will inform the client’s treatment plan, enable the therapist to evaluate progress, and serve as a benchmark for setting treatment objectives. Furthermore, assessments often serve to establish an initial level of behavior for clients.
Initial assessment is the most common type of assessment a music therapist will complete when beginning their relationship with a client. This comprehensive examination covers all areas of functioning, such as socialization, communication, fine motor, gross motor control and cognitive behavior. This assessment may be performed by either the referring agency or directly by the music therapy therapist at the start of each client’s initial music therapy session.
This type of assessment usually includes an observation summary that outlines the referring agency’s referral, why the client was referred for treatment, and what the therapist observed during that time. A chart review (Individualized Education Plan) as well as interviews with clients, their family members, and/or therapist can also be included in this form.
A therapist’s observations of a client should include details about their behaviors during and after therapy sessions, particularly any changes that have taken place due to music therapy. Furthermore, any concerns the therapist may have about either client behavior during or following sessions should also be recorded.
One of the most critical elements in a music therapist’s assessment is creating an outcome measure. This tool allows them to assess whether or not their client has responded favorably to their sessions with music therapy.
Developing a music therapy outcome measure is an extensive and often complex endeavor. To ensure its reliability, this measure must be field-tested in various settings so that it can be used to compare the performance of different music therapists.
In order to develop a dementia-specific outcome measure, focus groups were conducted with care home and day hospital staff to gain their perspectives on music therapy’s impact. Discussions centered around both emotional aspects of therapy as well as its ability to promote social interaction. After reviewing all collected data, an accurate scale that would accurately reflect its effects was created.
Results of focus groups and interviews were then converted to a quantitative measure that was field-tested by clinicians. Subsequently, MiDAS was refined based on feedback received from clinicians as well as external music therapy experts.
The final version of the MiDAS form was restructured for visual clarity, and a separate one-page guidance sheet was produced for new MiDAS raters. After field testing by music therapists in various settings, it was adopted as the music therapy outcome measure for dementia care home settings; strong content validity was observed.