Frequently Asked Questions

Why Music?

Music is…motivating! Music enters the limbic system before it enters the cognitive areas of the brain. The limbic system is our “feeling” center. This allows music to grab our emotions first, therefore increasing motivation.

Music is…rhythmical! Rhythm is one of the fundamental components of music, humans, and the world. Rhythm is a natural fit for human responses, including movement, singing and instrument play.

Music is…organizing! Music exists in time, therefore it is temporal. To attend to a song, one must be involved in the here and now.

Music is…nonverbal! Music can be understood by those who have limited understanding of language. It can be a common communication forum for someone who has difficulty expressing him/herself

What is the difference between therapy at AFH and other music therapy or behavioral approaches?

Our approach at AFH takes into account a client’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and spiritual development through a holistic approach using the arts. We focus on the development of each client as a person, helping him or her to discover and nurture unique strengths and resources, while addressing and working through challenges and issues. We offer a unique integration of programs in art, music, and drama. Our clients become highly involved in an interactive and spontaneous creative process. A client’s developmental path is consistently at its cutting edge as the client experiences the joys and challenges of creative expression. Rote tasks and a solely behavioral focus can often neglect the humanistic, psychological, and spiritual aspects of being a person with special needs. In music, art, and drama, one’s whole being is called upon to be present and to relate to others. We believe that self-improvement and self-discovery are possible through artistic endeavors in AFH’s compassionate, supportive, and integrated therapeutic approach.

How does therapy in music and art complement speech and occupational therapy?

In a creative music therapy and arts therapy, language skills and overall living skills are acquired, developed, and enhanced through engaging the client in purposeful and meaningful experiences in a long-term therapeutic relationship. A person involved in speech and occupational therapies can bring to fruition the integration of language and physical skills, discovering and fortifying these resources through creative expression. These critical and fundamental areas of development are addressed and honed through a creative music- and art-making process. At AFH we nurture our client’s sense of self and innate need to self-express and relate to the world around her.

Do clients at AFH learn to play musical instruments?

While not a primary focus of our music therapy sessions, often clients learn musical skills during their course of sessions. Skills are seen as a vehicle to expression and relationship. One of our primary concerns is the development of our clients capacity to move along a developmental path, to express themselves, and to form meaningful relationships in life.

As a client progresses, we can then offer Adaptive Music lessons to build skills for life. Using structured improvisatons gives all children the possibility of “playing” an instrument and experiencing music making before they actually have learned how to play or read music. We believe that nurturing the development of our clients’ creativity, musical and artistic sensibilities and sensitivities serves them well in the fundamental areas of their lives.

For how long will a client attend sessions at AFH?

While there is no prescription to the length of time that our clients attend, we believe that substantial improvement in our clients’ lives comes through a longer rather than shorter course of sessions. Developing trust and relationships takes time, as does addressing developmental issues through a creative process.

What if a client does not know how to play an instrument, or paint, or act, can he or she still attend?

Yes. It is not necessary for our clients to have prior musical or art training to benefit from our services. Along with our approach, instruments and art materials are used that allow clients to come into musical and visual art experiences.

How do we get started with therapy or the complementary creative arts programs?

By calling for an initial consultation, a therapist will meet with you, or with a child and parent(s) to discuss what would be the best way to begin. The in-person meeting can include discussion, music-, and/or art-making. The prospective client’s needs can be assessed and the appropriate program will be recommended at that time. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

How do I know if music therapy and/or art therapy is appropriate?

We believe that coming into one’s own as a creative person is essential to every person. People living with special needs have unique challenges and strengths, and through their involvement in creative experiences, life can open up for them and their families in ways that are unimaginable.

Is there any financial assistance available?

Yes. For those families who require financial assistance, AFH has a limited scholarship fund that can subsidize all or part of the cost of sessions for families in need.

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Daniel has grown in so many ways through the art and music sessions. He is expressing himself so much more clearly and fully. He seems to be so much more comfortable with who he is.

- Cheryl, Daniel's mother


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