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Q&A with the Music Therapy Maven

by Kimberly on July 13, 2011 · 13 comments

We’re trying something a little different today. A little outside-the-box. Perhaps a little, shall we say…daring?

Today, instead of me sitting and writing to you, I will spend time answering your questions.

How do you get involved? Easy! Just leave a comment in the field below.

You can ask a question about music therapy, starting a private practice, music and the brain, social media, marketing, music therapy research, music therapy education, being a working mom, going back to school, advocacy. Maybe you have a question about something I wrote, said, or did. Maybe you’re curious about a personal experience of yours.

Anything is fair game. Well, almost anything… 🙂

This little experiment could either be a raving success…or it could crash and burn. No telling which way it could go! That all really depends on you.

So, what are you waiting for? Leave your question in the comment section below. I look forward to chatting with you soon 🙂


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Erfurt July 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

I am a fellow blogger (lol, but I’m sure you already know that!). The truth is that writing is probably my weakest skill. Will you share some advice on how to be a better writer?
.-= Michelle Erfurt´s last blog ..Business Partnerships =-.

Kimberly July 13, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hi Michelle! I have a couple thoughts on that: 1) I think it’s about developing into your own as a writer…and your style may not be “perfect,” but it’s your style and your voice. So I think your goal is not to become a “better writer,” but a “better YOU writer” 🙂 2) The fastest and easiest way to improve is to read. But don’t read blindly–pay attention to which writers you like (even–and perhaps especially–if they are not within your professional scope), notice what you like about their writing, and try to infuse certain elements of their writing style into your own writing. Hope this helps! ~Kimberly

Alyssa Wilkins July 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I am working with a boy with special needs right now at a summer camp as well as doing some one-on-one MT with him for about 30 minutes a day. Today he threw a fit and left me with 10 scratches. This is a situation everyone close to him gets in, but it happened in front of other campers. How do I assure people around me in a professional setting that they are not in danger? And how do I handle being afraid of him scratching me everytime we have to do something he doesn’t want to do? I know it’s coming and right now the family has no way of preventing it, but I don’t want the fear of the problem to get in the way of progress.

JoAnn Jordan July 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Any idea what area you will focus on for research during your doctoral studies?
.-= JoAnn Jordan´s last blog ..Top 10 Blogs on Music with Older Adults =-.

Kimberly July 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Hello Alyssa! Great question. A quick disclaimer before I share my thoughts–since I am not familiar with the child, the camp, or have seen this happen, I can only share general thoughts and suggestions. I highly recommend you be sure to follow the appropriate “chain of command” when trying to figure out what will work best for that particular child.

Here are my thoughts (I hope something here helps): 1) I am sure–and hope–that the summer camp has a plan in place when a child gets dysregulated like you describe. Be sure the be familiar with that plan for the child and follow it.

2) When the child is in that dysregulated state, your first concern is to keep everyone safe. I’m not sure–given the situation, the staff present, environment, etc.–what the best way is, but it may include moving the other children to a different room, getting another staff person or two to help you, and removing anything the child may use to cause harm to himself or another person.

3) After making sure everyone is as safe as possible, try what you can to calm the child back down. This will be different for each person, but it may involve allowing the child time and space to calm down (you probably can’t leave the room, but maybe you can step out of arm’s reach) or maybe bringing in some other coping mechanism/tool (e.g. a weighted blanket, a favorite song, a bouncing ball). Maybe there’s a particular staff person who this child connects to and that person can be brought in to help calm the child. Also, you need to recognize when you are no longer effectively handling your own feelings during the dysregulation–maybe another staff member needs to step in so you can get a break because you can’t be fully present, calm, and helpful.

4) If this happens in front of the group, you–or someone else who was there–may need to process the situation with them. Again, I would refer you to the summer camp policies or a supervisor to help determine the best way to do this.

5) For your own fear, I recommend you reach out to a supervisor at the camp who can help you debrief, process your feelings, and possibly problem-solve other techniques that might work next time. You’re right to acknowledge that being fearful may interfere with the therapeutic process. It is important for you to take care of yourself as a therapist!

What you’re describing is not an easy situation. Good luck! ~Kimberly

Kimberly July 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Hi JoAnn! I do have a general idea in mind, although I’m not sure yet exactly how it will play out. Generally, I’m interested in the effect of music (specifically rhythm) on emotional regulation in trauma-influenced children. I think this information would be applicable to other clinical populations, e.g. autism, as well. ~Kimberly

Alyssa Wilkins July 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm


Thank you for your advice! It is a difficult situation but I know I can get through it. The hardest part is that the camp is not a camp for children with special needs so none of the staff is trained to handle someone with more complex needs, most of them are high schoolers so they don’t even really care. The supervisor of my group is very nice and is worth communicating with for assistance. I will definitely talk with her about putting a plan in place for when this happens again, because it definitely will. Thank you again!


Rachel July 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

Hey Kimberly!
I am working with a child right now who has no official dx, but some doctors have told him he probably has some neurologic deficits NOS. It is not anything on the spectrum, no adhd… my main problems with him are his speech fluidity (it often appears as something you would see as a result of trauma…I see him being worried a lot). I have been using drumming and singing to try and work at this. He can sing fine, he can drum and sing! But if I ask him a simple question with no music, it is a challenge for him to verbalize. Any ideas on how to transition him away from needing music to support his speech? I have just started working on some of the “fear” components he has by starting with the book “how full is your bucket?” and I planning on doing some work with him for confidence building outside of music (he is fine in music). I know this is a large question (and I left so much out)- but do any ideas jump out for you?
Thank you!!

Kimberly July 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Hello Rachel! The first thing that jumps out is whether it’s possible to figure out the etiology–is it psychological or neurological? That will really help inform your approach and the interventions you use the best. That said, one idea to try to take almost an MIT-like approach. Determine a set of question/answer sets or a set of sentences for the child to say and set them to music. Then you “practice” the musical version many, many times and end with a set where he speaks the sentence/answer–see if there is any transfer. In other words, if he’s singing, have him sing functional phrases/sentences and see if those phrases/sentences, if practiced sung, transfer when he tries to speak them. If the underlying issue is psychological, perhaps having these types of successes will bolster his confidence. If it’s neurological, then the practicing will hopefully help re-wire his brain for speech. Hope this helps !~Kimberly

Daisy@My Costume Express July 25, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Hi Kimberly , yes I have a question about music therapy. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog. Does it actually heal chronic diseases like cancer? I have a few friends who might need this kind of therapy if music does heal.
.-= Daisy@My Costume Express´s last blog ..Infants Costumes =-.

Kimberly July 27, 2011 at 1:17 am

Hello Daisy! Great question. Music therapy cannot “heal” diseases like cancer (e.g. it will not shrink a tumor), but it can be a powerful complementary therapy. Music therapy is often used as part of a holistic treatment model, primarily focusing on the emotional, pain management, spiritual, and social aspects of fighting cancer. I hope this helps. To find a music therapist near your friend, I’d recommend visiting and clicking on the “Search for a Music Therapist” link. Best of luck! ~Kimberly

Caitlin Krater August 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Hi Kimberly! I am currently doing my internship at a childrens hospital and we were recently discussing some copyright issues regarding a closed circuit tv program at the hospital. There is a talent show during which some children sing along to pre recorded music and another program which plays 10-45 seconds of a song and the children call in to guess the name or artist. Do you have any suggests or know where to find more information and resources?
Thank you!!!!

Kimberly August 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Hello Caitlin, You are right to check into copyright issues! I recommend you consult with the legal department at your children’s hospital. The hospital should have a license either through BMI or ASCAP, which may cover this area. Still, checking with legal is the best way to start. Good luck! ~Kimberly

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