Trends in virtual music therapy: a COVID-19 reflection
Lauren Rowe, MT-BC
Published March 2021
Over the past year, Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has drastically changed the way we live our lives. Changes have been made in almost every part of our daily lives, from the way we shopped for our groceries to the way we interacted, or did not interact, with our loved ones. For the Music Therapists at Living Unlimited, the initial “shutdown” in March of 2020 shifted our thinking and our typical processes, changing the way we delivered music therapy, potentially forever.
At the precipice of this pandemic, our team diligently communicated with our clients, their families and supports to continue offering connection and support. We took some time to pivot our practice, shift our perspective, and learn as much as we could about delivery of services through the platforms that we had access to. Our clients stuck with us through this, and for several months all clients served were served via zoom, doxy.me, teams, and more as we navigated this virtual world together.
While many on our team agree that face to face services are ultimately the best way to serve individuals, many eye-opening experiences have led us to learn, grow, and even identify some positive outcomes related to virtual services:
*Increased engagement and interaction with families/support networks: Our services have often been 1:1 interaction with the client we are serving in a treatment room, bedside at a facility, or maybe a corner of an adult day program. In the past months, we have collaborated with families and supports to “be our hands” while we provide the music and intervention. With increased collaboration, we have had more clarity in our purpose through discussion and interaction as we work toward goals.
*Continued progress or maintenance of goals: Through the variety of virtual platforms, our team has been able to continue the work toward goal areas being addressed in the treatment plans that focus our services. Whether it is increasing attention, social skills, utilization of coping skills, working toward communication skill areas, or physical needs, our team has utilized a variety of music interventions to ensure our clients are maintaining skill areas or even making progress. Over this time, we have had the opportunity to expand upon our interventions to utilize virtual and technological opportunities.
*Flexibility in scheduling: Our team knows how incredibly busy our client’s lives are and scheduling is always a puzzle for us! This year has allowed us to be creative in working with families to support goals in more natural environments at times that work for them. School schedules and day program routines have shifted, and we have shifted schedules accordingly to meet the needs of our clients. With less travel required for our team and the clients we support, we have found a nice balance of scheduling and having availability for make-up sessions, as they are needed.
*Breaking down barriers to treatment: In the past year, our team has been able to provide services to individuals that would have gone unserved. In the past, many barriers have been presented when attempting to serve clients such as geographic location, scheduling, specialized medical needs. With the opportunity for virtual services, many of these barriers are broken down as we can meet in the comfort of someone’s home without fear of scheduling, running late, extensive travel, and sharing germs with some of our most vulnerable clients.
The music therapy team has slowly begun to shift toward face-to-face services again and, in many instances, looks forward to a return to some level of normalcy. We also acknowledge and appreciate the perspective this past year has provided. We want to be able to give our clients a firm handshake or high-five, but look forward to the future and serving more clients in new ways that meet their needs, both face-to-face and virtually. If you want to learn more about music therapy, both in person and virtually, contact us at 1-800-310-7776.