Case Study - Johnny

Amalia Brightman Senior 1, SRAST(M), Music Therapist

Johnny is a 6 year old boy with Learning Disabilities and Emotional Behavioural Difficulties. He attends a mainstream school. Johnny’s mother is a single parent; Johnny witnessed domestic violence and has been subject to physical and emotional abuse. He creates chaos at home by his hyperactive, uncontrollable and aggressive temper tantrums towards his mother and siblings.

At school his lack of concentration, challenging behaviour and difficulties in communicating his feelings cause him to be isolated from peers and unable to access the whole curriculum. He is often excluded from school activities resulting in being socially emotionally immature missing out on important developmental levels.

In music therapy Johnny is able to find a place where his energy and emotions can be channelled and transformed into purposeful and creative expression. He is motivated to listen and respond to the therapist’s musical improvisations which reflect and mirror playfully his mood states and energy.

Singing, rhythmic interplay and body movements form an ‘emotional language’ which can be shared between them. Whether aggressive, frustrated, excited or joyful, music therapy enables reflecting on a range of feelings making it possible to discover new ways of communicating and relating.

Over a period of 2 years, Johnny gradually developed self-confidence and self-control improving his attachment issues with his mother and forming positive relationships at home and at school. This process helped Johnny sustain social interactions and develop emotional literacy. Johnny is attending school on a regular basis now and has recently joined the school’s football team.