Back and Forward: Bessie Barth on the Role of Music in Therapy

Back Q&A Aug 7, 2017

Bessie Barth, director of Music to Grow On, offers her insight into the role of music therapy. For more from Barth, check out “Striking A Chord” in our August issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.

What’s the biggest change in your industry/area of focus in the past year?

In the area of special education, music therapy has become more recognized as an effective related service. Other professionals are seeing that music therapy can support the work of speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, behaviorists and teachers. By working alongside music therapists, professionals are able to work with students to meet their goals with different motivators and think outside the box on interventions to address individual goals.

What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?

Again in the area of special education, with the additional recognition of music therapy, more parents, advocates and professionals want to see it work for their children. However, in the educational setting music therapy is not for every child. It is an alternative when other therapies and educational interventions are not working. Parents hear that another child is receiving music therapy and therefore want it for their child. This results in many assessments where students do not qualify under the guidelines under an Individual Education Plan. This then requires continued education in the community, with parents, advocates and professionals, on when music therapy is appropriate and when it is not. It is not something that every child needs within his or her IEP. While many children benefit from music therapy, not every child will qualify as part of the IEP.

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