Music Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation Collaboration

“Our bodies are designed to interpret and place value on what it is that we’re hearing. Music is a natural doorway to recovery.”  

That’s how Erin Clark, Music Therapist, put it when talking about music therapy as part of a recovery model at the Grand Rounds presentation held at Ontario Shores on May 28.

Erin Clark teamed up with Amanda O’Keefe, Therapeutic Recreationist and Professional Practice Leader, and Taelor Dunn, Music Therapy student, to present the benefits that occur when Music therapy and Recreational Therapy collide.

Goal areas commonly assessed in Music Therapy include relaxation, learning/focus, productivity, inspiration/creativity and motivation. The tempo of a song (beats per minute) can be used to help clients achieve a certain state of mind because they mimic the heart rate, which is also measured in bpm. Each of these goal areas can be attributed to songs with specific bpm’s – for instance, songs promoting relaxation range from 30 to 60 bpm whereas songs intended to motivate range from 120 to 140 bpm.

Some music therapy intervention techniques include lyric analysis, song mapping, relaxation and drumming. Ontario Shores offers various hospital resources to TR’s and nurses wanting to incorporate music into their practice including client iPods, guitars, and various music programming (such as karaoke nights, dances and jam sessions hosted by Central Recreation).

Effectively incorporating music into clinical practice can be as simple as finding a relaxing song and playing it each day as a group’s “theme song,” or as diverse as starting a drumming circle and inviting patients to express their emotions through the beat of the music they play. Last year, a team of Music Therapists trained Therapeutic Recreationists at Ontario Shores on the basics of Music Therapy so that everyone could incorporate the therapeutic use of music in their clinical practice.

“Music therapy was found to be effective and in no way adverse,” Clark said. “We really encourage you to infuse music into what you do as a clinician.”