Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a practice that uses music to address non-musical goals. That means you are using things like singing, instrument playing, songwriting, and music games and exercises to improve attention, behavior, language, social skills, range of motion, and lots of other things. We are not necessarily focused on getting good at playing music - instead we are measuring progress in behavior, life skills, and functional goals.

Does it really work?

For a lot of people, it does work! It's a standardized practice where certified professionals use exercises that have been tested over and over, so we have a pretty good idea going into it what will work for each client. So.i.Heard has helped people manage their behavior, improve their speech and social skills, and improve more complex cognitive skills too.

Is there research to support this?

There is! Most Music Therapy practice is based on research about how our brains process music. It turns out that music making engages many, many brain areas at once, so there's a very interesting opportunity to work on almost any kind of skill. There's also quite a bit of research about applying specific active music exercises to improving particular skills, and the body of research is always growing.

Our Music Therapists happen to be big research nerds, and would be happy to track down studies that are related to any specific questions you have. 

You can learn more about the basic science principles of Music Therapy here.

Is my child too young for Music Therapy?

Probably not! Our Music Therapists have experience working with babies that are only a day old, and we have worked with plenty of children as young as 3 here at So.i.Heard.

Is my child ready for Music Therapy?

As long as your child likes music, they can be ready to participate in Music Therapy. This is a service that looks different and means something different for each client. If you have a goal in mind for your child, our Music Therapists will use their skill, experience, and flexibility to meet any client exactly where they are and create an individualized treatment plan. There should be no expectations coming into the assessment or sessions. Trust the expertise of your Music Therapist, and they will figure out a perfect plan to help your child make the most of their time here.

My child can't pay attention or behave long enough to participate in Music Therapy.

A big misconception about Music Therapy is that someone has to be "ready" for treatment, but a child who has trouble paying attention and behaving is the perfect candidate for our services. Think of Music Therapy as a way to behave rather than a reason to behave.

Attention and behavior are usually the first goals that a Music Therapist will set for her clients. Please do not hesitate to try out our services for fear of a short attention span or unpredictable behavior! A client does not have to behave or pay attention in order to participate; it is the specially designed Music Therapy exercises that will HELP your child behave and pay attention!

What diagnoses do we address?

At So.i.Heard, most of our clients have Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, or Cerebral Palsy. However, our Music Therapists have experience with a much longer list of diagnoses. We will not turn anyone away for a consultation or an assessment! We are also happy to take on clients who have no diagnosis at all, but feel the effects of Music Therapy could improve their physical, mental, social, or emotional health.

What ages do we serve?

We serve all ages! Currently our clients range from age 3 to 33. Our facility is especially tailored to kids, but we never turn anyone away based on age.

What happens during a Music Therapy Consultation?

You will be meeting with our Program Director, Brooke. She will give you a tour of our facility, give you details about our program and about our different services, and answer any questions you have about Music Therapy, adapted music lessons, our policies, and anything else. You will get to decide your next steps and schedule an assessment or trial if you like. If you do schedule a trial while you are here, we take payment up front to hold your slot so nobody else can take it.

There are more details about consultations here

Should I bring my child to the consultation?

Bringing your child to the consultation is certainly not required. Some parents have found that scoping out the studio first for themselves is the way to go. If you come by yourself, you can make sure that you have time and attention to get all of your questions and concerns addressed. Some parents would rather let their child have a preview of the studio as well so they have time to get used to this new facility. However, the Music Therapist will be able to give their full attention to your child at their assessment to help them acclimate and process through the new experience, whereas you may want to have the therapist's full attention at the consultation so you can leave our studio feeling confident that you have all the information you need to make a decision about your next steps.

What happens during a Music Therapy Assessment?

At the Music Therapy assessment, your child will meet their music therapist. The therapist will have been briefed about your hopes and goals for therapy, as well as your concerns. But, if you have last minute questions for your therapist before the assessment begins, you can get them in then. Typically we see more progress and focus with new clients when the therapist and client work one on one and the parent waits outside, but this can be taken case by case. That being said, while your child is working with the therapist, it's a great time for you to fill out our assessment profile if you haven't already, and take a nice break for yourself.

Your music therapist will begin building rapport with your child and present some musical exercises to see how your child responds. Your therapist will assess the child's level of functioning within the chosen areas to address, and your child will get a feel for what to expect with the therapist and the facility.

Music Therapists are usually really good at predicting someone's potential in Music Therapy right away, and they will end the assessment a few minutes early to update you with their thoughts. They may suggest some objectives that they will want to set for your child. After you leave, they will write a treatment plan and send it to you ASAP, so that if you haven't made a decision about enrolling yet, that may be able to help you.

What happens during a Music Therapy session?

When you enroll in Music Therapy at So.i.Heard, you will choose a time slot that recurs every week (unless our studio is on a scheduled break). Your Music Therapist will have written a detailed treatment plan with goals and very specific measurable objectives. Your Music Therapist will meet your child where they are each week, adjusting exercises and interventions to make sure they are always making some sort of progress towards the goals you've chosen together.

Because of this, every session looks different, but you can almost always count on some active music making - especially improvisation, singing, drumming, songwriting, or specialized interventions disguised as fun music games.

You can find more information about Music Therapy sessions here.

Can I sit in the room during a Music Therapy session?

For the most part, we recommend that parents sit outside the session or take a break for themselves. For several reasons, we tend to see more focus and progress when the client is alone in the room with the Music Therapist. We are not always sure why, and there certainly are differences between cases, but that's the trend that we tend to see. Either way, keep in mind that Music Therapists have tons of training and experience with kids who have special needs and that you can trust your Music Therapist to maintain control of the situation and use their great intuition to get quickly acquainted with your child's individual preferences and characteristics. Think of your child's Music Therapy session as a break for yourself. When parents join the session, they sometimes find themselves trying to correct behavior or redirect, but you should not be the one working! Music Therapists leave a lot of space so clients can take their time, and our therapists often use more humanistic ways of addressing behavior that you wouldn't utilize as a parent, so the urge to jump in might come up. This can cause more stress for parents than necessary, and we'd love for you to just relax while we work

We can of course take things case by case and we are completely open to hearing your concerns about sending your child in alone. But sometimes the youngest, shyest, and most behaviorally unpredictable kids really surprise us and have an amazing and productive time with their Music Therapist in a one on one session.

If you have any more questions or concerns about this, feel free to address them at your consultation. Our number one concern is making sure both you and your child are comfortable here.

Does So.i.Heard take insurance?

So.i.Heard does not directly accept insurance. We do, however, document every session carefully using insurance codes, and we can provide these for you quickly after your assessment, as well as monthly for as long as you are enrolled. This means you can submit the documents from us to your insurance company, and it is then at their discretion whether to reimburse you or not. So, you will be paying us out of pocket, but there is absolutely opportunity to get some of that money back from your insurance.

More information about progress reports can be found here.

Is Music Therapy reimbursable?

In some cases, fortunately, it is! In other cases, unfortunately, it is not. Usually it has everything to do with the flexibility of your insurance company and plan. We are happy to offer advice that we have learned from current and past clients, and we are happy to help you advocate for services to your insurance company if they are willing to speak to us. The codes we provide are valid and universal. Basically, we provide the same codes that your Speech Therapist, Psychotherapist, Physical or Occupational Therapist would provide. We also give you all the other information you should need to get reimbursed, but some insurance companies are just very strict, or very unwilling to fully understand what is going on in a music therapy session, and why they are necessary for full physical and mental health.

More information about progress reports can be found here.

How often does So.i.Heard submit progress reports?

When you first come in for an assessment with one of our board certified Music Therapists, we will provide an initial treatment plan and session report via email within the next day. This way you can get a head start on making a plan with your insurance company for reimbursement, and you can also have a clinical and detailed report of what happened in the session to help you decide about enrolling.

After that, our therapists take careful documentation at each session, and take note about progress towards the goals laid out in the treatment plan. At the end of every month, we will gather all the documents that took place that month and email them to you, at the very latest, by the 5th of the following month.

More information about progress reports can be found here.

What are CPT codes?

CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology, which is a fancy way of saying that all providers have standard protocol for addressing certain therapeutic needs, and we've all agreed to categorize our interventions into a handful of numerical codes. Your speech therapists, PTs and OTs, doctors, psychologists, music therapists, AND insurance providers all know the codes, so we can quickly figure out what another provider is talking about. When we provide you with reports from your music therapy sessions at So.i.Heard, each one will include CPT codes that your insurance provider can look at and know right away why you came to us and what we did for you. That helps them decide if they are going to reimburse you or not.

Although our sessions here look like music games, improvising, singing, and making up songs, all of the work we do in sessions usually falls under one of these CPT codes:

97533 - Sensory Integration
97532 - Development of Cognitive Skills
97530 - Therapeutic Exercises
92507 - Speech/Language Training
97112 - Neuromuscular Re-education
97116 - Gait Training

More information about codes can be found here.

Does So.i.Heard offer scholarships or financial aid?

So.i.Heard does not currently have any scholarships available for new clients. We are trying our best to put a system in place to do so, and it can't hurt to ask us at your consultation. What we can do in our current system is to help you fight and advocate for insurance reimbursement, so if your insurance company is willing to speak with us and hear us out, we are happy to do everything we can to help you get reimbursed.

Adapted Lessons

What are adapted lessons?

Adapted lessons are an unconventional way to learn music theory and how to play musical instruments. They are ideal for students on the Autism Spectrum, or students with anxiety, behavior issues, any other diagnosis, or just a desire to learn things in the most flexible way available. Instead of following the usual formula for learning one specific instrument or genre of music, adapted lesson teachers work flexibly around the students' needs, interests, attention span, and unique strengths to find an individualized path to mastery in music.

More information, examples, and videos can be found here.

What is the difference between a regular lesson and an adapted lesson?

Adapted lessons at So.i.Heard are taught by our Board Certified Music Therapists. This is because these therapists have years of training and experience with children who have special needs or who are exceptional in any number of ways. As Music Therapists, these teachers can draw from experience in adapting lessons, concepts, ways of delivering information, and even physically adapting instruments to accommodate unique learners and interests.

More information, examples, and videos can be found here.

What is the difference between adapted lessons and Music Therapy?

Because adapted lessons and music therapy sessions are both conducted by Board Certified Music Therapists, take place in our cozy and sensory friendly Music Therapy studio, and look so incredibly fun, it can be hard to tell the difference. The main difference is what is going on inside the Music Therapist's brain.

In a Music Therapy session, your therapist will carefully plan, both ahead of time and in the moment, fun and engaging music exercises that are meant to address functional goals. These are goals that you and the therapist have decided on together, like speech, behavior, focus, motor skills, social skills, cognitive skills, or others. Sometimes it might even look like an educational experience for the child - learning to play a song, read music, or use a specific technique to play an instrument. But the therapist is mostly focusing on how this experience will help develop a life skill, like focus or decision making, rather than a music skill.

In adapted lessons, the goals are the same as regular music lessons - to become proficient in music! The music therapist is without a doubt constantly thinking "How can I help them learn something musical that will engage them?" The thinking process is reversed - rather than "How can this particular musical interest of my client apply to their functioning in life?" the process becomes "How can this way of engaging my student apply to a musical learning experience?"

Music Therapists are infinitely creative and adaptable, especially pertaining to the needs and interests of exceptional and extraordinary children. Therefore, no music therapy session or adapted lesson will look the same. It's all about going with the flow.

You can learn more about adapted lessons More information, examples, and videos can be found here.


What on earth does MT-BC mean?

MT-BC stands for Music Therapist, Board Certified. When someone has this certification, you can guarantee that this is not just a person who is musically inclined and good with people - it is someone who has spent years studying neuroscience, human development, exceptionality, psychology, health, anatomy, physiology, therapeutic techniques and theories, and on top of that spent years doing practical fieldwork with people of all ages and walks of life, applying music to their health goals. The certification means that the person has completed at least a Bachelors Degree specifically in Music Therapy, accrued at least 1200 hours of direct therapeutic work, and then studied for, passed, and taken a 150-question board certification test. An MT-BC adheres strictly to a code of ethics and code of professional practice unique to the field of music therapy, keeps current on relevant research, and accrues relevant continuing education credits regularly.

What is a Music Therapist?

A music therapist is a super awesome person that is not only incredibly smart and hard working, but also infinitely creative and adaptable. It is a person who is board certified in the creative and exciting and innovative field of Music Therapy, who works with people to help them maximize their health and functioning in an engaging, fun, musical way.

What are a Music Therapist's credentials?

A music therapist MUST have at least a Bachelor's degree in Music Therapy, and must be board certified to work and legally claim their title. Several states also require Music Therapists to hold Master's Degrees and hold an additional license specific to the state.

What are So.i.Heard Music Therapists experience and qualifications?

So.i.Heard Music Therapist are Board Certified, have Bachelor's degrees or higher, and are also certified and trained in Neurologic Music Therapy, which relies heavily on quantifiable neuroscience research about how music is processed in our brains. So.i.Heard Music Therapists are highly musical, multi instrumentalists, seasoned performers, well rounded clinicians, and research geeks. You can learn more about them here.