Music Therapy & Co-Treatment: What Does it Look Like?

Music Therapy & Co-Treatment

Helping professions come in many different forms. And while music therapy is an effective therapy modality for individuals of all ages and needs on its own, it can also be a part of a bigger team of allied health professionals.

In this post, I want to showcase other health professions that serve to accomplish many of the same goals as music therapy, as well as show how the expertise of each distinct profession can be used to collaborate with music therapists to maximally serve the needs of each client.

SPEECH THERAPY is implemented by a speech language pathologist (SLP), who works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, n.d.)

What might it look like for a speech therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

For a child who has a speech impairment, a speech therapist may help identify certain physical and neurological components with which the child is having difficulty. The speech therapist and music therapist may design interventions to address the specific impairment, which might look like composing a song that incorporates certain syllables within the song lyrics, certain rhythms that address various motor coordination, and certain note durations to improve breath support.

PHYSICAL THERAPY includes treatment by a physical therapist that creates individual treatment plans to match each person’s goals, helping people improve their fitness and function, avoid surgery, reduce the use of opioids and other drugs, and partner in their own care (American Physical Therapy Association, 2018, n.d.).

What might it look like for a physical therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

For individuals who have suffered a stroke, it may be hard for the patient to walk at a regular pace for long durations of time. A physical therapist may assist the patient in the physical components of exercising while at the same time, the music therapist may match the exercise with a regular rhythmic beat. By matching the body’s movement with an auditory cue, duration of exercise increases, perception of fatigue decreases, and movement becomes more organized.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes (American Occupational Therapy Association, n.d.).

What might it look like for an occupational therapist and music therapist to co-treat together?

A child with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have difficulty with the daily routine of dressing and undressing. An occupational therapist may work with the child to incorporate certain adaptations, such as adding velcro or elastic to clothing to make changing easier. A music therapist may then compose a song with lyrics that include step-by-step directions for how to open and close the velcro on the child’s jacket.

There are so many ways that individuals of all ages and needs can receive support to have the best quality of life. Isn’t it amazing that all of these therapeutic modalities have their own expertise, yet can come together to form a powerhouse interdisciplinary team?

To find out more about how music therapy can be a part of your loved one’s care, click here.  


American Occupational Therapy Association (n.d). About occupational therapy. Retrieved from

American Physical Therapy Association. (n.d). About physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs). Retrieved from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d). Learn about the CSD professions. Retrieved from


The Functional Sign Language Bundle: Your Resource For Applying Sign Language in a Snap!

Sign Language for Music Therapists

Last January, I began the journey of creating a thorough resource to take you from knowing no sign language to knowing over 100 signs, 8 songs, and practical advice for how to apply this knowledge every day in your practice. One year and two CMTE courses later, I believe that we have done it!

Functional Sign Language for Music Therapists | Sign Collage

Functional Sign Language for Music Therapists (3 CMTE credits) was built to give you a strong foundation in sign language. We start the process of understanding cultural considerations, exploring application and signing with songs, all while diving deep into building your sign dictionary. Each participant will learn over 100 signs! These signs are what I consider the must-have, go-to, can’t-go-without signs, and they are packaged up for you in one comprehensive course.

The Functional Sign Language Song Crate (3 CMTE credits) was the natural successor to the first course. In this course, we expand on cultural considerations and offer a variety of applications, goals, and objectives for varying clinical settings. The core content of this course teaches you how to sign to 8 different songs, and walks you through a tutorial on how to break down, learn, and sign any song!

Functional Sign Language for Music Therapists - Sign Collage

We are offering a discounted rate of 25% off when you register for both courses. The registration deadline is April 10, so register today here!

Once you register, you will have an entire year to complete the self-paced courses and receive credit, but you never lose access to the course materials! You can look to this course as a resource for years to come.

Go-To Drumming Applications for All Ages

Drumming for all ages

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned about myself coming out of internship is that I love drumming interventions! With a little bit of practice playing a consistent steady beat and embracing improvisation, drumming with clients of all ages and who have a variety of needs can be extremely effective and versatile when it comes to addressing goals related to:

  • Emotional wellness
  • Physical motor skills
  • Expressive communication
  • Cognitive skills
  • Academic skills

I’m excited to share how I’ve used drumming in the past to meet the needs listed above, and to encourage those who may not feel comfortable with rhythm or drums that rhythmic competence is not the ultimate goal. Rather, the goal is to create opportunities for your client to maximally participate and engage through the structure of a steady beat and through tactile and auditory feedback.

Drumming for Emotional Wellness

Improvising a drum solo or using call and response activity can be effective in validating a client’s emotional state, or when used as a creative outlet, it can assist the client in coping with certain emotions.  

Drumming for all ages

Physical Motor Skills

A steady beat primes muscles to coordinate and move at consistent times and for greater durations. Drumming (and placement of the drum) can encourage muscle movement and coordination for clients with physical needs.

Expressive Communication

Improvising a drum solo or call and response activity can be a great way for nonverbal communicators to express a dialogue with a therapist or convey a musical message.  

Cognitive Skills

Drumming allows the incorporation of memory and sequencing skills through call and response activities.

Academic Skills

Drums can come in different shapes and colors, which can assist with learning pre-academic concepts. Also, drumming and counting can go hand in hand, which is another important skill for early childhood learners.  

Drumming for all ages

These are some of my go-to drumming applications that can be adapted for individuals of all ages and needs. Regardless of whether you’re rhythmically challenged or not, I hope that you find ways to add drums into your sessions!

If you want to share how you’ve used drumming in your sessions, leave a comment below, and if you want to learn more about music therapy, check out MTC’s services!