My Response To A “Musical Therapy” Email

I was recently sent an email from someone who read my post about Music Therapy via Tumblr. In the email, they that had an issue with me using the term “Music Therapy” in regards to Reine and her Autism as we are not seeing a music therapist. I wanted to address why we call what we do with Reine “Music Therapy”. My hope in doing this in a post is to give clarification to ANYONE that reads Simply Reine and questions our use of the term “Music Therapy”.

Here is the email that was sent to me…..

Dear Simplicity Redesigned,

I was reading a post you recently posted on Tumblr about taking your daughter to Toys R Us and how much of a success the trip was. Congratulations! However, I was troubled by your description of using music as a coping mechanism as “music therapy”.

Music therapy is the “clinical and evidence-based use of music to accomplish individual goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional” according to the American Music Therapy Association. As a music therapist, I wanted to reach out to gently correct your use of “music therapy” as (from what I read) your daughter is not working with a board-certified music therapist and the use of music is not within clinical goals or a treatment plan.

Although I don’t doubt your daughter and family have benefited greatly, describing it as “music therapy” is incorrect and misleading. Better terms might be “audio therapy” or “iPod therapy”.

Thank you for your time and for the thoughtful posts you share. I look forward to reading more.


Their name was given here. I am choosing to keep it Anon.

Here is my response…..

When Reine was first being diagnosed with ASD and SPD, I spoke to the specialists who were diagnosing her about what we were going to try with the iPod. I was still waiting for some of the items to arrive and I wanted to see if I was on the right path with helping Reine in regards to her being constantly over stimulated in public settings. My biggest concern is for her safety. The specialists were the ones that told me it was in fact a form of “music therapy”. We are by no means done with her diagnosing. As of right now we are on 3+ waiting lists to see other specialists (each one 9+ months long). These specialists will decide if there is anything else she will be diagnosed with, what therapies she will need, and if she is to be placed on any other waiting lists.

I will admit that I am ignorant in many regards to my daughter’s autism, sensory processing, and about autism in general. I am just scratching the surface of it all, as we are new to navigating into her world. But one thing I pride myself on is researching things.I thought that I made it VERY clear from the beginning that this is “OUR FORM” of what we call “music therapy”.

Just like many things in life, there are different variations of things. I will have other posts to come, where I am once again doing our own versions of things that have been recommended for us to do.Are we seeing a music therapist at the moment? No, we are not. Will we be within the next year? No idea. But I will continue to research more ways to help my daughter and us navigate. When we went to see the Occupational Therapist, we were told that we are already doing or are about   to do everything she would have recommended for us to do. We go back to see her in about 4-6 months to be reevaluated. Again, you will see posts soon about our version of various OT charts and recommendations for things that we have tried that will have the same names as other possible therapies.

You are more than welcome to call it a coping mechanism. I even agree to a certain point. Coping mechanism by definition is an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.Reine’s coping mechanism was to run away, scream like a banshee, throw tantrums, flip grocery carts, destroy store displays and to become a wild child in all senses of the word, just to name a few of her behaviors. We  have even been asked to leave stores several times because of her behavior.My coping mechanism was to come up with a way or ways to figure out what I could do to help my daughter as she attempted to navigate into our world. What we did according to the specialists, was to give Reine something to focus on to help her drown out some of the over stimulating factors for her and to allow her to remain in a more calm state.

Audio by definition is an electronic, optical, magnetic, physical or other technical representation of sound. Many consider audio to be things like passages / books being read or white noise such as waterfalls, crickets, storms, waves crashing on a beach.

Music is using sound, usually including rhythmic, melodic and harmonic elements.

Therapy is the treatment intended to relieve or heal in part or whole of a disorder.

Reine listens to music on her iPod yes, but if the iPod breaks, it may not be replaced with another iPod. She does not listen to audio, but to actual music. And we do consider it a form of therapy for her.

I have decided that I will continue to call it “music therapy” despite us not seeing a trained music therapist.

I will say that if you want me to change the name of “music therapy” to something else…..

This is one thing that we will have to agree to disagree on.

3 thoughts on “My Response To A “Musical Therapy” Email

  1. As a trainee music therapist I must agree with anon that what you are doing is not officially ‘music therapy’. You are using music therapeutically which is a completely valid and great thing to be doing for your daughter, and has been proven to have many many benefits. However, the reason us music therapists get a bit funny about people using the term music therapy ‘incorrectly’ is because it can be really misleading for readers and appears to dismiss the years of training we have to endure to be able to officially call ourselves music therapists. It is a constant battle music therapists must face of people’s misunderstanding of terminology, and a lot of us really feel strongly that, whatever form of music one chooses to use, people have a full understanding of what they are doing.

  2. P.S. Please continue to use music with your daughter in whatever way is beneficial to her, I promise you I am in no way trying to devalue what you are doing.

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