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What happens in a music therapy session?

In music therapy sessions, each person actively engages with a Registered Music Therapist through music improvised uniquely with them, as well as through favourite songs and musical activities. Clients interact and communicate with their therapist, expressing their personalities, ideas and emotions in whatever musical way they can – through instruments, voice and movement.  At Raukatauri, we have over 500 different instruments, which are high-quality, resilient and individually chosen to meet each client’s preferences and needs. The instruments used in music therapy are accessible and can be played and spontaneously explored, without clients having to “learn” to play them.

In addition to instruments, our therapists use singing, movement and play to motivate and interact with our clients.  Sessions often begin and end with a familiar hello and good-bye song and the activities in between are all designed to work toward the individual client’s goals.  A young child who is just beginning to develop expressive language skills might use animal puppets and noises to playfully practice different speech articulations.  An adolescent might write a song with her therapist’s support to express how she feels about being ‘different’ than her peers.  A group of young adults with intellectual disabilities might choose from a list of favourite pop songs to sing and play together and then share how those favourite songs makes them feel.  Family members may be present in sessions, depending upon the individual client’s needs and goals, and this is something that will be discussed during the initial consultation.

Who are music therapists?

A music therapist is a skilled musician who has been trained to use music to help develop a person’s potential, whatever their disability, difficulties or diagnosis.  All music therapists at the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre are registered with the Music Therapy New Zealand Registration Board and have completed the relevant Master’s (or equivalent) qualification. They have had extensive training in music, psychology and human development and continue to receive frequent clinical supervision and take part in Continuing Professional Development. 

Our therapists are leaders in their field and are frequently asked to present at conferences, give media interviews, participate in research and submit work for publication. Raukatauri’s staff have recently presented at the World Congress for Music Therapy, the NZ Interprofessional Health Conference and symposiums at Auckland and Victoria Universities. They have also published journal articles, book chapters and book reviews in the past year and two of our therapists are currently contributing to large-scale research projects. Hailing from various backgrounds our team work in a variety of ways with our clients, always taking their cultural history into account.

How long is each session?

In general our sessions are 30-40 minutes in length. Group sessions are often 45 minutes.

How do you measure the success of music therapy?

As clinicians working within an allied health profession, our music therapists document their sessions through both data collection and narrative documentation, which are recorded electronically and regularly reviewed.  These written measures are supported by the weekly video recording of our sessions.  Formal reports and reviews are held with families at 3 or 6 month intervals, sharing the progress and developments made in music therapy, along with providing families the opportunity to review some of the audio visual footage. We also ask organisations and families to complete service evaluations on a regular basis to ensure we are providing a service to fit their needs. 

Why is music therapy effective?

Music has an enormous impact on our brains and bodies, allowing our therapists to work towards cognitive, emotional, communication and motor goals.  Regardless of age, disability, illness or trauma, we all have an innate response to music and music is also highly motivating, which means that the children and adults we work with often engage with music therapy easily and enthusiastically.  Music grabs and sustains attention which helps with learning tasks, it entrains muscles which makes gross motor movement more fluid, it evokes memories and emotions, encourages shared experiences – and makes us feel really good!

What are the term dates?

The dates for 2019 are:

TERM 1 — Tues 29th Jan - Sat 13th April
TERM 2 — Mon 29th April - Sat 6th July
TERM 3 — Mon 22nd July - Sat 28th Sept
TERM 4 — Mon 14th Oct - Fri 20th Dec 

The Centre is open during the school holidays, but closes for two weeks at Christmas. In the school holidays we run special programmes, which are posted in the News tab, but please so ask your therapist for extra or make up sessions in the holidays too!

How much does it cost?

Our mission is to offer a quality, accessible music therapy service to all people, whatever their needs. To that end we subsidise the cost of our programmes and never turn anyone away due to an inability to pay. Whilst the actual cost of each music therapy session or review is over $140 we realise that is not affordable for families so we ask parents and caregivers to make a contribution of whatever they can afford on a sliding scale. This recommended scale can be seen here.

For those who are unable to make the minimum contribution each week there are private trusts that can be applied to for funding, as well as a subsidy scheme that RMTC operates. Under this scheme families can pay as little as $6 per session. If you have any questions or concerns over our costs please contact Rachel Farrell on 09 360 0889 who is happy to discuss this with you.

Can I get funding for music therapy?

We never want financial concerns to prove a barrier to our service and work with families and organisations to find a solution. Payments for sessions can be supported by Carer Support or Individualised Funding, as well as grants and trusts such as the Wilson Home Trust, Jubilee Trust and Cerebral Palsy Society of New Zealand. Full information on funders can be found on our Funding factsheet.  

How can I pay for my sessions?

Sessions and review meetings are invoiced on a monthly basis at the end of each month, in arrears. Payment is due on the 20th of the following month. The simplest way to pay is via online banking but we can accept cash and credit card (not eftpos) at the Centre. A full factsheet on ways to pay is available on request.

Why have I not heard of music therapy?

Music therapy is still a relatively young practice in New Zealand, and yet music therapy as a credentialed profession emerged in the 1940s. It is widely used across the world, most notably in Europe, Australia and the United States, not only in music therapy centres but also in hospitals, hospices, schools, rest homes, mental health treatment facilities and prisons. However, music therapy is still largely unknown in New Zealand and therefore a large part of the Centre’s work to date has been in raising awareness and education of the field, along with its benefits, especially for children with special needs.  The benefits and effectiveness of music therapy are thoroughly supported by research, both in New Zealand and internationally.

What is the cancellation policy?

The Centre requires 24 hours’ notice for the cancellation of a session or the session will be charged for. The exception is in the case of illness when an unwell client would gain no benefit from the session and would also risk passing illness and disease onto the team and other clients. In all other circumstances the session will be charged for.

When sessions are cancelled by the Centre there is no charge. The therapist will make every effort to provide a make-up session at a later date.

Clients come to the Centre for anything from a few months to several years. If a decision has been made to end therapy a notice period of four weeks must be given. This enables an appropriate ending process for the client and therapist. If less than four weeks’ notice is given these final sessions will still be invoiced unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Should we still come if my child is sick?

A client should stay home when …

  • Vomiting: If they have vomited two or more times in the last 24 hours.

  • Diarrhoea: Defined as 3 or more watery stools in 24 hours, we ask that all clients are symptom free for 24 hours before returning to sessions.

  • Eye infection: If they have an eye infection – thick mucus or pus draining from the eye.

  • Coughs and cold: If the client has a persistent cough, a continually running nose or a sore throat, with a fever or swollen glands.

  • Fever: Clients should be fever-free, without the use of fever reducing medications, for 24 hours before coming to music therapy. A fever is defined as over 100°F.

  • Common childhood diseases: A client should remain home until they are no longer contagious for diseases such as chicken pox, Hand, Foot and Mouth etc.

  • Rash, lice or nits: They have a body rash, especially with fever or itching, lice or nits.

A client may attend when …

  • They have an upper respiratory infection without a fever. If they have a persistent cough or a constant runny nose however we would prefer they stay home. To prevent the spread of diseases we encourage covered coughs and sneezes where possible.

How can I become a music therapist?

In order to practise as a Registered Music Therapist in New Zealand, you need a Master’s (or equivalent) qualification in music therapy. Here at Raukatauri, some of our music therapists trained overseas, and others completed the Master of Music Therapy at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, NZ.

Training as a music therapist involves learning clinical improvisation skills, child development, psychology and psychotherapy theories and music therapy theories that underpin the clinical work. You also go on placement in a range of settings, including working with children and adults. After training, music therapists continue to develop their skills by taking additional training in a range of areas. Currently The New Zealand School of Music in Wellington is the only educational facility in New Zealand to offer a Master of Music Therapy Degree (MMusTher). For more information visit the training section of Music Therapy New Zealand’s website here.

Can I come in and observe a session?

In order to ensure the privacy of our clients, we do not offer observations of sessions.

Where can I find further information on music therapy?

There are plenty of resources online which are included below, as well as some fantastic media coverage featuring the Centre over recent years.

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