Case Study - Shelley

Case Study  – Shelley

compiled by Amalia Brightman Senior 1, SRAST(m)T, Music Therapist

Shelley is ten and attends a school for children with special needs. Shelley has some physical difficulties. She is visually impaired and virtually non-verbal. Although she craves friendships and relationships, she lacks the confidence and the tools to express herself and interact with peers. Shelley is very shy and her physical needs has made her withdrawn, dependent on her key worker or adult carers to meet her social needs or act on her behalf. Shelley is due to transfer to Secondary School.

Shelley’s class teacher became concerned that her shyness, lack of communication and interaction skills will isolate Shelley in the next school and adult life. She was referred to group music therapy which consisted of four peers. Group music therapy allowed another aspect of Shelley’s personality to emerge.

She chose to play the loudest percussion instruments in an ongoing and powerful way possibly to make sure she is noticed and to vent her frustrations and sense of isolation. The music therapist enabled Shelley to explore being independent and experiment with being noisy and assertive, shouting and singing loudly, expressing her creative energy and feelings.

This was in contrast with her withdrawn shy personality outside the sessions. As the therapy progressed, Shelley became more trusting being heard and acknowledged; she explored using softer instruments such as little bells and chimes in a gentle and sensitive manner. Shelley was able to use her newly discovered ‘voice’ and confidence in other areas of her life and hopefully this will continue to help her in her new school and beyond.

(All Children’s names have been changed to protect confidentiality).