International Health Humanities Network Impact Reports and Narrative
Music Therapy for Parents and Children with Special Needs: Being Together and Playing Together
Full Impact Narrative
“Being Together and Playing Together” is a pilot project that provides music therapy services to parents and children with special needs in the deprived areas of East London/West Essex. Commissioned by the Epping Forest Children’s Centers, and in partnership with other local government agencies, “Being Together and Playing Together” seeks to create and sustain a community support network to reduce isolation and depression in parents of children with special needs, while also encouraging the use of music making for children with these needs as a way of self-expression and social development.
“Being Together and Playing Together” is offered as a free, 8-week course for parents and their children, aged 1-5 years old. Each 75-minute session includes 30 minutes of musical play between parent/child and a 45-minute verbal parent support group. A music therapist and family therapist who offer a combination of non-directive clinical improvisation and verbal therapy lead sessions collaboratively. Children are encouraged to play freely and at their own ability level. As a result, parents who are overly focused on their child’s limitations begin to perceive their child in new ways. By engaging in the play element of music making with their child, their anxiety also begins to decrease.
“Being Together and Playing Together” enables parents to explore the meaning and reality of having a child with special needs and enhance their parent/child interaction through the power of music. As a community initiative, parents create a support network that sustains them outside of the group and into the future.
“Being Together and Playing Together” is the first program of its kind in this part of the United Kingdom. The project commenced in summer 2010 and will continue via funding from the Epping Forest Children’s Centers, as well as some monetary donations from participants. The project is currently seeking grant funding from third parties for the 2012-2013 tax year.
“Being Together and Playing Together” is expanding and developing its program with organizations in other deprived areas of London, including two organizations that will offer the project in late 2011.
Research and Evaluation
“Being Together and Playing Together” utilizes qualitative and quantitative research methods to determine its effectiveness and sustainability. Analysis of participant attendance, a brief questionnaire and informal interviews are used consistently.
Contact Person: Daniel A. Hyams, Newham Music Therapy Trust
Address: c/o Hazelwood Children’s Center
Hill House Primary School Site
Waltham Abbey, Essex, England EN9 3EL
Health Care Areas
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