How to Respect Neurodiversity in Music Therapy Practice
April is Autism Acceptance month, and this year we are happy to support autistic voices advocating for the need to embrace neurological differences. Embracing and respecting the beauty of Neurodiversity is one of our passions at Dynamic Lynks. At the core of our holistic approach, we believe the most important thing is to accept our clients for exactly who they are, while fully embracing the beauty of their unique brains.
If you are not sure what we mean by "neurodiversty" check out our blog post from last year to learn a little bit more.
As we continue to accept autistic people and their neural differences, it is important that we continue to also be critical of our therapeutic methods and approaches to ensure we are not unintentionally causing harm to someone in therapy. We have just launched our new Dynamic Community to support other therapists in learning strategies to support autism acceptance in their work. Here are a few tips to help get you started!
Neurodiversity is all about accepting others for who they are, but often therapy is about change - how do these two work together?
At Dynamic Lynks we like to live in the middle of these 2 concepts, and we call it the cross-section of Neurodiversity!
Our first priority is always to respect the personhood of the individual who walks through our doors. We fully embrace what makes them unique and look at their strengths.
We then evaluate the validity and necessity of therapeutic intervention, and determine what treatment strategies will best support the individual in a strengths-based approach.
Living with differences can be challenging, and therapeutic services like music therapy are here to help support the individual through those challenges. Our goal is to provide our clients with the most fulfilling life on their terms, to allow them to fully express who they are and what makes them #ausome.
"Therapy can be very helpful when something is getting in the way of a person's safety or their personal goals in life." (AMA J Ethics, 2015)
Listen and Respect
As therapists we have power. There is a power dynamic between client and therapist and it can be easy to fall into the thinking pattern of "I am the therapist and I know whats best." This is very dangerous thinking.
We should prioritize listening and respecting what our autistic client is communicating.
I encourage you to bring this outlook into your sessions and see what happens!
This is one way we can be truly client centered!
Focus on Strengths
Along with "client-centered" we often here the phrase "strengths-based." Music therapists have a unique opportunity to truly be strength based!
Many autistic people and other neurodivergent individuals have strengths in music and creativity. Using these strengths as the platform of our therapeutic modality helps us always incorporate a client's strength in treatment.
Some people on the autism spectrum have challenges accessing verbal communication. Communicating through music is a wonderful alternative that we can access in music therapy sessions.
Think about your clients strengths, and find more ways to use those strengths as a basis for therapeutic interventions.
We appreciate your time reading and checking out our post, but encourage you to follow some actually autistic voices to learn more about being a neuro-inclusive and neuroaffirming practitioner! Here are just a few of our favorites to follow on social media:
Join the Community!
If you are interested in learning more about neurodiversity and music therapy, or joining the Dynamic Community for support, strategies, song and session plans, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!