By Gemma Lenton-Smith, Music Therapist, Ealing Music Therapy
Anna is 8 years old. She found it difficult settling into her new school. Anna lives with her mother who has to cope with mental health difficulties herself. As a result Anna’s home life is chaotic and her behaviour in school reflected this as she was often disruptive and found it difficult to listen in class. Anna also found it difficult to interact with her peers, which made it hard for her to make friends.
Anna was referred to music therapy by the SENCO of the school. It was felt that music therapy would allow an environment for Anna to explore emotional-expression whilst using music to develop her social and relationship skills such as sharing, turn-taking and listening.
Anna attended music therapy for one academic year. Within this time Anna was able to explore emotions she was experiencing through music making. Initially in therapy Anna would often want to direct the sessions and found it difficult to be open to ideas other than her own. It was felt this was likely a reflection of the lack of control she felt in her life. However overtime she was able to share the piano playing jokey musical exchanges with the therapist laughing and smiling to the therapist’s musical response. She was also able to explore aspects of her identity and how she related to others both at home and in school through creating musical stories. Within music therapy Anna became a happier child willing to have fun and sharing her space.
At the end of therapy Anna’s teachers and her mother noticed a real change in her confidence and flexibility in interacting with others and the way she coped with difficult situations. She begun to make friends and generally seemed happier both at home and in school. Anna’s school work has also shown great improvement this academic year.