Therapeutic Listening for Children

Instructor: Gaines Arnold

Gaines has a Master of Science in Education with a focus in counseling.

This lesson discusses the concept of therapeutic listening and how it can benefit children who have issues such as autism, Down syndrome, and other sensory disorders. The concept is defined and explained.

The Miraculous Inner Ear

The inner ear is an amazing mechanism. It is greatly responsible for balance, it is responsible for auditory response (hearing), it helps to organize the other senses, and some believe that it is the first intricate system to fully form in the fetus. The inner ear may also lead to a therapy that helps young people with sensory difficulties live more fulfilling lives.

Therapeutic Listening

What is this discovery that has possibly uncovered a more directed treatment option for those with sensory problems? It is called therapeutic listening. The intervention allows the subject to listen to common music that has been modified so that the listener hears different pitches and frequencies. For example, the listener may hear a piece of music by Mozart that is relatively common but has been modified so that the pitches and frequencies change at determined intervals. The reason for these changes in the music is so that the music has a greater impact on areas of the brain that can bring about a desired change in behavior.

How Does it Work?

The sound vibrations formed by the pitch and frequency changes in the selected music stimulate the inner ear, which in turn sends signals to the rest of the body. This organizing pattern helps listeners orient themselves as well as connect to the space around them. Since the listener either has difficulty processing sensory information or is completely unable to organize sensations, the music helps him or her calmly react to the space and time they are in.

How the Therapy Progresses

Most counselors are very familiar with a few types of therapy and use them in their practices almost exclusively. They have found, for their client base, that these therapies work the best and they fit into the counselor's therapeutic stance. The therapy becomes comfortable and follows a prescribed pattern which yields results because the therapist can mold that theory to fit individual client problems.

Therapeutic listening cannot be applied in the same way. Even for a therapist who is both trained and experienced in its use, this technique can change significantly from one client to the next. The reason is that there are many different songs and styles that can be used, and the variations in the music are meant to fit a particular individual. At first it is a hit and miss proposition in which the therapist uses their prior experience to gauge the client's needs. As more music is introduced, and the desired effect is achieved, the therapist will be able to focus their efforts. The client can then follow a program of one or two 15-minute sessions per day with the chosen music.

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