Music Therapy and Play Therapy


As a parent you might be wondering what can I do to modify my child’s mood within minutes, reducing anxiety and depression, healing trauma?  How can I best support my child who is struggling with a disability or special need? What can I do to aid my loved one in their healing process and living a fuller life?  Fortunately, you need not look any further, Music Play Therapy is one of the most powerful healing tools. Music Play Therapy is being recognized globally by researchers and doctors as a beneficial therapeutic method.

Music Play Therapy is much like non-directive play therapy with musical instruments instead of toys.  A board certified music therapist tracks the child’s experimentation with instruments. The therapist can typically aid the session with the child by making music with them or learning a song from them. Structure can be introduced into the play by teaching them a song or asking them to identify instruments that they can play to express various emotions such as frustration, anger, and sadness.  Ultimately, the goal of the therapist is to help the child find songs and activities leading them towards healing and changing their inner state. For instance, incorporating movement with singing to represent joy, hope and dreams. Music Play Therapists are challenging their current state of mind and creating a brighter future sense of self through songs, movement, and playing of musical instruments.

Often a therapist might play a piece of music for children suffering from autism and/or other disabilities where they are experiencing limited social skills and ask them to imagine the emotional state of the person who created the music or the person who is playing it.  This interactive method can help a child with autism (as well as ones experiencing different types of disabilities/special needs) develop or strengthen the ability to consider the emotions others are experiencing.  

Some tangible examples would be utilizing group drumming circles to induce relaxation, provide an outlet for feelings, and foster social connectedness among members of a group. Group members might sit in a circle with a hand drum while the therapist leads them in drumming activities that may involve group members drumming one at a time or all at once.  Participants of the circle may be asked to express how they feel by playing a rhythm on their drum or the group might be asked to improvise music as a means of increasing group cohesiveness.

Here are a few goals that music play therapy strives for:

Communication

  • Increase Speech Production
  • Improve Receptive Language
  • Improve Expressive Language

Socialization

  • Increase Verbal Responses
  • Increase Eye Contact
  • Increase Participation

Physical

  • Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills
  • Increase Range of Motion
  • Increase Coordination
  • Increase Muscle Strength

Emotional

  • Improve Mood
  • Increase Emotional Awareness
  • Improve Coping Skills

Cognitive

  • Increase Attention
  • Provide sensory stimulation
  • Reinforce academic skills  

The Oxford Academic Journal of Music Therapy states that children often show a high degree of interest in and a ready sensitivity to music.   Furthermore, not only do children react to music in play therapy with pleasure and excitement, but it also has a great effect upon their performance in tasks requiring attention, concentration and prolonged effort.

As as a parent searching for ways to heal your loved one and live a more vibrant life, isn’t this an avenue that you would be willing to consider?  Are you an overwhelmed parent or caregiver? Know that you don’t have to travel this path alone and struggle anymore. There is support waiting for you! Music play therapy builds up a child’s self-esteem and nurtures their soul.  

As a board certified music therapist and nurse and with years of extensive, I have created success-based activities that address your child’s developmental skills and needs.  I am honored to be a part of the Music Therapy profession where we are always striving to make sessions so fun and musical, that clients don’t even realize how hard they are working.  Music Therapy treatment plans can be applied in a group setting, private sessions or in a combination of both. Now that’s a formula for success!

I currently have some openings, so please feel free to connect with me, if you or someone you know needs this kind of therapy and support in achieving their goals for a better quality of life.


Kim McMillin

RN, MA, MT-BC, RPT, LMHC, LMFT (CO)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist
I am passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevent them from embracing the Light of Goodness inside. Each of us comes into this world as a magnificent Sun. What often trips us up is that we learn to identify with the clouds -- ugly things...

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1315 N. Napa
Spokane, WA 99202

Music therapy for autism and developmental disabilities serving the Spokane, WA area.
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Whether you are an advocate for someone with developmental disabilities, you are stuck in your life and need a new approach to personal growth, or you want to heal from health issues and enhance your well-being, the resources on this website can help.  Check out our videos, get our newsletter, and then call our office at 509-979-4357 to discuss your unique situation.
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- Family with a Developmentally Disabled Son - Boulder, Colorado
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