Therapy is a common tool used to help treat a wide range of issues and disabilities ranging from anxiety to mobility issues, and so many more in between. In this day in age, there are many different types of therapies out there that can help with your, or your loved ones, unique issue. Recently I was introduced to Music Therapy when my dad was going through treatment for his cancer. The hospital he was admitted to offered this therapy and it was truly amazing to witness.
Thus, I wanted to learn what Music Therapy was all about, so I connected with Mary Whtye, State Certified Music Therapist, Music Therapist Board Certified Director, and owner of Pure Progression Music Therapy.
Mary Whyte grew up in Salem, UT in a very musical family. She played the bass in orchestras, jazz bands, and rock bands. Music has always been an important part of Mary’s life.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with music in college but did not want to teach music or do a performance as a degree or career. Luckily, I found out about music therapy right before I started college as a bass performance major,” Whyte said. “Also, it just so happened that I was enrolled in the only university that does music therapy in Utah! It worked out great because I was teetering on the medical side of things anyway. I felt like I found the perfect fit!”
Mary met her husband in college and has been married for almost 6 years. She has a two-year-old son and she and her family live in Lehi, UT, where she runs her business, Pure Progression Music Therapy.
I asked Mary to tell me about music therapy and how it is different from the more traditional therapies out there.
“Oftentimes, music therapy is able to connect with those when traditional therapy hasn’t worked, or it is a great way to have a more complete treatment team,” she explained. “Music therapy reaches clients on all different levels through the motivating medium of music! I have many clients tell me that they actually look forward to therapy instead of dread therapy when we are working together. Music therapy can also be a great option if a client needs a way to express nonverbally.”
On a more scientific level, Mary explained that “music therapy relies a lot on the relationship that music has with our brains. Because music is processed in all areas of our brain, our bodies can do incredible things to it. There is a lot of researched and evidenced-based approaches that music therapists use to improve the quality of life with our clients.”
Like most therapies, music therapy identifies individualized goals and objectives that are determined for each client after an initial assessment. These goals are unique to each client and are continuously evaluated to keep current with the treatment needs and progress of the client.
“If a child was having difficulty communicating, music can help improve communication by choosing songs, singing lyrics, picking instruments, etc. This can be done through singing, visual aids, PECS, sign language, and more,” Whyte explained. “Say a child is pretty closed off in expressing emotions or is unclear about what emotions mean. Music therapy can help explore this through improvisation, various instruments, and sensory materials, social stories, and play, the movement to music, or even songwriting. The beauty of music therapy is that it is so adaptable. Music is ever changing and music therapists are trained to write songs and improvise at the moment to meet the needs of the client.”
The benefits of music therapy are not only seen in the clients, but also with their families, who gain an increase in the relationship when they participate in music therapy as well.
Mary has really been able to take her love for music and impact others, she explained, “this is often because there are more ways to reach their loved one. Music breaks down a lot of barriers and helps improve physical, cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual, and many other areas in one’s life. I would say that most see an improvement in communication, emotional regulation, and self-identity.”
Mary has worked with many different types of clients and has many challenges and successes in her career. She shared some of her favorite moments with me:
“I have had multiple children who were identified as nonverbal be able to communicate with parents or others because of progress in music therapy. I have worked with teens that say that music literally saved their life and they are able to have coping skills that they can turn to for the rest of their life. I have worked with a child with Autism that has a hard time with physical touch and eye contact but reached out to me and caressed my face and smiled,” Whyte said. “These connections moments are something that you can’t forget. It is so powerful to be able to reach people through music in such an impactful and meaningful way!”
To learn more about Mary Whyte and her team at Pure Progression Music Therapy, visit their website here.
Is it time for you or your loved one to try something new and break new boundaries? To learn about music therapy and find a therapist near you, check out the American Music Therapy Association here.