Using Music Occupational Therapy

Reading Time: 6 Minutes
therapist utilizing music occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is important for promoting wellness and recovery for individuals with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities. Through occupational therapy, individuals can learn and develop skills that enable them to participate in daily activities, learn good long-term habits, and improve their quality of life. For occupational therapists, music therapy can effectively engage clients in meaningful activities that foster self-expression and promote healing.


The Benefits of Music Therapy for Occupational Therapy

Music therapy is unique in its ability to combine sensory stimulation with memory retrieval and motor control. The therapeutic use of music can benefit individuals in many ways, including physical rehabilitation, sensory processing, emotional regulation, pain management, and motivation.


Physical Rehabilitation

One of the ways music therapy can help with physical rehabilitation is by providing a rhythmic cue for clients to follow during exercises. Using music with a consistent beat can help individuals maintain a steady pace and rhythm while performing exercises, which can be especially helpful for individuals with coordination difficulties. A client recovering from a stroke may struggle with walking due to problems with balance and coordination. By incorporating music with a steady tempo into their walking exercise, the client can follow the beat of the music, which can help improve their coordination and balance.


Sensory Processing

Through musical activities, clients can learn how to regulate their sensory systems to respond appropriately to different situations. For instance, a client with sensory processing difficulties may be hypersensitive to specific sounds or textures. In such cases, the occupational therapist can use music therapy interventions that involve exposure to different sounds or textures to help the client gradually desensitize to these stimuli. The use of music can provide a structured and predictable environment that can help individuals with sensory processing difficulties feel safe and comfortable.


Emotional Regulation

Music therapy interventions provide a safe and supportive environment for clients to explore their emotions and develop better strategies to manage frustration and other complicated feelings. Music therapy interventions allow clients to explore their emotions in a safe and supportive environment. Clients with difficulty expressing their emotions verbally may find it easier to express themselves through music. Music therapists can use improvisation, songwriting, or lyric analysis to help clients express themselves and better understand their feelings.


Pain Management

The use of music can provide a pleasant and engaging sensory experience that can help reduce the perception of pain. Music therapy interventions that involve listening to music, singing, or playing a musical instrument can help individuals focus on the music and divert their attention away from the pain. Using music with a slow tempo and calming melodies can help promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can contribute to the reduction of pain.


Music Therapies for Different Populations

Music therapy can address the needs of various populations, including children, older adults, individuals with disabilities, and those struggling with mental health issues.



Music therapy can help children with various developmental challenges, such as language delay or autism spectrum disorder. Through music activities, children can learn how to communicate their feelings, improve their motor skills, and increase social interaction.


Older Adults

Music therapy can benefit older adults with memory loss and other cognitive impairments. Music activities can help stimulate memory recall and provide an enjoyable way for seniors to stay mentally active.


Individuals with Disabilities

For individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, music therapy can address mobility, communication, and behavior challenges. Musical activities can help improve coordination and strengthen cognitive skills while providing an enjoyable outlet for self-expression.


Mental Health

Music therapy can address mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Through musical activities, clients can explore their emotions in a safe environment and learn how to manage them healthily.


You need a flexible EMR that can handle documenting and billing for modalities like musical therapy. Download our free guide and learn how to find the right software for your practice.


How to Incorporate Music Therapy Into Occupational Therapy Sessions

Incorporating music therapy into occupational therapy sessions can provide clients with a fun and engaging experience. By selecting appropriate music therapy interventions, occupational therapists can help their clients improve physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning and enhance their overall quality of life.

Occupational therapists can incorporate music therapy into their sessions in a variety of ways. Some activities that occupational therapists can use include:

  • Listening to Music: The therapist can play music during the session to create a calming environment, improve mood, or help the client focus on their task.
  • Singing: The therapist can engage the client in singing activities, which can help improve breath support and speech and language skills. Singing can also be a fun and engaging activity that motivates and uplifts the client.
  • Playing Musical Instruments: The therapist can incorporate playing musical instruments as a means of therapy. This can be particularly helpful for individuals with physical disabilities who need to work on fine motor skills. Playing musical instruments can help improve hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and upper extremity movement.
  • Improvisation: The therapist can engage the client in improvisation activities, which can help promote self-expression and creativity. Improvisation can be particularly helpful for individuals who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.
  • Songwriting: The therapist can engage the client in songwriting activities, which can help improve communication, self-expression, and emotional regulation. Clients can use songwriting as a tool to express their emotions and thoughts in a creative and meaningful way.
  • Movement to Music: The therapist can engage the client in activities that involve movement to music, such as dancing or marching. Movement to music can help improve coordination, balance, and gross motor skills.


Resources to Maximize Music Therapy’s Therapeutic Potential

By using resources from various sources, occupational therapists can ensure that they can best provide effective music therapy interventions and resources for their clients. Some valuable resources for occupational therapists to use in their therapy settings include:

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) provides resources on using music in therapy, research-based approaches, and tools to help practitioners learn more about their field. Additionally, they offer resources such as articles, webinars, and conferences that can benefit occupational therapists.

The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) provides certification for music therapists and offers continuing education resources to help practitioners stay informed on the latest developments in the field.

The National Coalition of Creative Arts Therapies Associations (NCCATA) offers resources on creative arts therapies, such as music therapy. They also provide information on research and best practices in the field to help practitioners better understand how they can use music therapy in their practice.

The World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) aims to promote the development of music therapy globally, establish standards for education and clinical practice, and facilitate communication and collaboration among music therapists worldwide.



Music therapy is an incredible tool for occupational therapists to use in their practice to help clients achieve their treatment goals and improve the quality of their lives. By understanding the benefits of music therapy and incorporating it into their sessions, occupational therapists can provide more effective and comprehensive care to their clients. Music therapy offers a safe and supportive environment for clients to express themselves, learn new coping strategies, and develop skills that can translate to their daily lives.


Streamline Your Practice with Fusion

Ready to streamline your practice and spend less time on administrative tasks? Sign up for a free demo of Fusion – the premier all-in-one solution for PT, OT, and SLP practices. With features like scheduling, billing, and EMR all in one easy-to-use platform, you can manage your entire practice and clients in one place. Our team of specialists can help you move your data and walk you through getting started, even if you’re already using another practice management software. Don’t waste any more time on paperwork – request a free demo of Fusion today!




Related Posts