Music Therapy and NDIS

The National Disability Insurance Scheme brings greater choice for people making decisions about their care. In this guest post the Australian Music Therapy Association discusses the role a Registered Music Therapist can play in helping you achieve your NDIS goals.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is defined by the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc (AMTA) as a research- based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing. Registered music therapists (RMTs) are skilled musicians who are trained to understand how music participation impacts behaviour, cognitive processes and emotions. They work collaboratively with people to decide on goals to be addressed in music therapy, facilitate music experiences in which people can participate comfortably, and evaluate the benefits of music therapy to people’s health.



What Do Music Therapists Do?

Registered music therapists use a range of music-making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship to achieve specific psychosocial, communication, physical and/or spiritual goals. In community settings, music therapists use their skills in health promotion to support social networks and community participation through music making. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice.

Is Music Therapy Covered Under NDIS?

Music therapy has been recognised by the NDIA for inclusion in funded support plans under the support cluster of Therapeutic Supports – provided to assist the participant to apply their functional skills to improve participation and independence in daily, practical activities in areas such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions and community living. They may work individually or in groups with participants of the NDIS in early intervention, school age and adults with disability.

How Can Music Therapy Be Used To Help Me Achieve My NDIS Goals?

One example is in addressing anxiety and emotional resilience, as was the case for 8yo Ben*

Ben is an ambitious and active 8 yo boy who, as a result of a cancer diagnosis and treatment early in life, lives with one eye, significant hearing loss and acquired leg function/movement issues. As a young child he spent a considerable period of time in health facilities where he became emotionally withdrawn and anxious. Ben is now reaching an age where the challenges he encounters as a result of his functional capacity are becoming evident and frustrating to him.

Goals established for Ben under his NDIS plan included anxiety reduction, confidence building and social communication. Having previously participated in music therapy in the hospital, Ben’s mum felt this could be an effective intervention for addressing such goals and requested funding for provision of this under his plan.

After an initial assessment period of 4 sessions it was agreed by the registered music therapy service provider and Ben’s NDIS Plan Support Coordinator that music therapy be included on his 12-month plan to address his identified needs. Within fortnightly sessions he now works with a registered music therapy provider to:

  • Write songs that encourage him to communicate about what’s going on in his world
  • Play instruments in different musical styles to assist the naming, expression, and subsequent regulation of emotions that he’s experiencing, primarily frustration
  • Learn songs on the keyboard to build his confidence and belief in his own abilities

The music therapy provider working with Ben records notes after each session and discovers that an additional benefit for Ben has been for his physical development, since playing of instruments and moving in sessions has also assisted both fine and gross motor control.

* Not his real name.

How Can I Find Out More About Music Therapy?

If you, or a person you know is interested in music therapy, please visit our website. www.austmta.org.au for more information.

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