Music Therapy case study

Thanks to generous support from our donors, we were able to fund a new Music Therapy clinic which not only offered a creative respite for the children and their families, but also offered UWE Bristol students invaluable experience.

Adam Kishtainy, an associate lecturer at UWE Bristol has used a Better Together Fund grant to set up a new music therapy clinic for children with life-limiting conditions. The clinic provides placement experience for three music therapy students supervised and mentored by Adam of the music therapy team and Catherine Warner, the programme leader of MA in Music Therapy. The clinic uses the sensory room and family space in the new paediatric suite at Glenside Campus.

Family therapy sessions

The clinic has enabled four families to access weekly individual music therapy sessions for their affected child at no cost to themselves. The children's age ranged from a four month-old baby through to a 12 year-old and each child had very complex and high-risk health issues, including a child with a particularly rare genetic disorder (with only 30 known cases in the whole of the UK). The children and parents were encouraged to explore a range of musical instruments as part of the music therapy process and each was able to find an instrument they were able to play, despite their physical and cognitive impairments.

Opportunities for students

The project has also helped to enhance the learning experience for the students: they had the opportunity to observe a music therapist experienced in children's hospice work before taking over the clinical work themselves; they had the opportunity to learn the skills needed for setting up and running a clinic reception; they provided informal support for the parents while sessions were being delivered; and they developed an evaluation tool as a way to gather parent's views and experience of the clinic. This will hopefully encourage more music therapy students to consider undertaking work with children with complex needs.

Family feedback

Two of the parents commented that they had been trying to access music therapy in the community for some time, but were unable to do so for a variety of reasons. They expressed their thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to be involved in the clinic and that they would very much miss the sessions after they stopped.

One child's epilepsy had been becoming increasingly complex with dangerous seizures that were not responding to conventional treatments. The child's parent noticed that during the music therapy sessions her child displayed little or no seizure activity and that this is the only place where this seems to happen. The parent believed this was a direct result of the engagement, relationship and music that the student was able to develop.

“It has gone very well: three students have completed a placement there with Adam, and four children with life-limiting conditions have been able to attend. We have had a lot of difficulty with transport for some of the families and will certainly be making a new application for more funds to the Better Together Fund again.”

Catherine Warner Programme Manager for MA in Music Therapy

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