In March of 2020, when everything suddenly pivoted online, I was immensely concerned about what that meant for my work. I couldn’t picture how my music therapy clients and music students could be nearly as successful remotely as in person. I had no idea how I was going to be able to translate things to function virtually.
One year later, my outlook has completely shifted.
Throughout this whole experience, one of my biggest takeaways has been that remote music therapy and music lessons can and do work. I can truthfully say that some of my clients have even done significantly better in the remote setting than in person. After over a year of working remotely, I am excited and passionate about telehealth. Below are the biggest reasons I think virtual services are amazing:
Clients and families can choose the environment they participate from.
Clients can choose to attend sessions from the most comfortable place in their home, which often increases engagement and communication. With in-person services, many of my new clients have taken a few weeks to adjust to the environment and get comfortable enough with me to start really working towards their goals. Through remote sessions, we get to begin from a more comfortable baseline. I’ve also had clients call into sessions on the go–while on vacation with family, while at their homeschool pod location, or even from the car! The flexibility of remote sessions allows for clients to join from wherever they are rather than having to cancel or reschedule when they have somewhere to be.
Many individuals actually find social interaction via screen more comfortable than in-person interaction.
Some of my clients on the spectrum have really blossomed through teletherapy because they prefer interacting with me on screen. Many have shown increased focus and attention as well, as they have found it easier to sustain engagement in the remote setting. Some individuals may be easily overstimulated, so the reduced amount of stimuli as compared to in-person sessions can be very beneficial.
Parents can gain insight into what happens in the therapy or lesson room.
With most in-person music therapy sessions or music lessons, parents will wait outside the room for their children. One of the most rewarding things about remote sessions is that parents can actually be in the room and see what goes on in the session. Remote music therapy can address familial relationships and provide tools for parents to use outside of sessions as well.
During a time when in-person interactions have to be restricted for safety, online sessions allow for a greater degree of “closeness”.
I think it’s important to acknowledge that even as things begin to reopen, in-person services are far from their pre-pandemic norm. In the music setting, necessary precautions include social distancing, mask-wearing, limited singing, and restricted physical touch, among others. These restrictions can impede the therapeutic or educational process, and can actually limit our ability to do many of the activities that are easily facilitated online. In music therapy the limitations on singing can be especially difficult to work with, and can get in the way of progress towards speech and communication goals. I really feel that I have the most therapeutic tools at my disposal in the virtual setting at this point in the pandemic.
Consistency, consistency, consistency.
Many services that are open in person are operating on some type of hybrid model, where clients receive a combination of remote and in-person services. Alternating between service modalities can increase feelings of insecurity and decrease the consistency of services provided. Through remote sessions, we can promise that services will not be interrupted by rising infection rates, confirmed exposures to the virus, or waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test.
It bears mentioning that telehealth is not a perfect, one-size-fits-all solution. However, neither are in-person services! It’s always the reality that each individual will have different needs and considerations. At NeuroMotif, we are committed to making things work for all of our clients, and we feel that remote services are the best possible services we can offer at this time. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your child’s needs in detail or try out our virtual services!
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