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How can Music Therapy contribute to a NHS Child Development Service?

Thu 14 Oct 2021 - Julia Serebriakov and Crystal Luk-Worrall

Crystal has worked in various settings with children of 0-19 both in and out of the NHS. She is a keen advocate for Makaton and enjoys exploring new possibilities of how Music Therapy can be offered. Julia has worked with children across education, NHS and community settings. She is also a mum to twins who help her develop her turn taking strategies at home!

Introduction: Music Therapy within a NHS Child Development Service

The Music Therapy service at Chelsea and Westminster is embedded within two different Child Development Services. We work as part of a multi-disciplinary team with Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy as well as Specialist Nurses and Paediatricians. We offer individual and group Music Therapy support for children with significant developmental needs and their families. As a team we are actively involved in training Music Therapists, offering placements and teaching. We also have a growing strand of research activity, with a number of collaborative projects investigating aspects of Music Therapy practice with children and families. In this blog we share some examples of the multiple ways that we offer Music Therapy within our setting, supporting families in the early years of their child's development.

Music Therapy within Maternity Care
Alongside input on maternity wards wtihin the Trust, we have recently begun group work in collaboration with maternity services. These include an antenatal group run with the perinatal mental health team and a postnatal pilates group with the pelvic health Physiotherapists. We are currently evaluating these Innovative groups, and hope to develop further work in this area.
Evolving our service to continue support families during Covid-19

Our offer of Music Therapy has adapted so that we can continue to help families remotely in various ways. Initially this meant phone and Zoom calls, expanding to include designing and distributing musical and video resources to families. 

Our online service evolved to include: parent and staff workshops, assessments, individual and group therapy sessions and summer holiday groups, all by video call. Parents valued this contact, for example saying: 

"He is doing well and I can see his progress when we are singing together...Your ideas are great and helpful for us."

After attending an online workshop, another parent commented:

"Enjoyed workshop, nice to be introduced to other families in same situation...nice to hear there is hope at the end of the tunnel with using music as an interaction."

We found that working with families virtually in their homes opened up new opportunities and increased our flexibility as therapists. For many children, being in their home environment for sessions has enabled them to share and show their favourite toys from home on screen. For one example, one little girl who had previously struggled with making it into the Music Therapy room was able to relax and engage online. One week this included baking a cake together and singing about it with Mum on screen, something that couldn't have happened in the Music Therapy room!

Conclusion & Links

The Music Therapy team at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital has expanded and developed over a number of years embracing new areas of practice. This summer, for example, group sessions in the park became a possibility. In these sessions, we incorporate park facilities such as the swing and trampoline to support children with sensory needs. Developing our service by collaborating with families has been at the core of our approach and continues to lead us into new and exciting ways of providing Music Therapy. 


Website: www.chelwest.nhs.uk/musictherapy

Twitter: @ChelwestMT