Music Therapy

about us

Parity for Disability is dedicated to transforming lives. Without the right support, the life of a person with multiple disabilities becomes limited and lonely. Meaningful social contact, learning, achieving and experiencing the world all become impossible.

Parity’s services are there for people with multiple disabilities, their families and carers.

Music Therapy – A Sound Approach

Parity has a team of music therapists who hold a recognised postgraduate qualification in music therapy and are registered with the Health Professions Council.

As well as working with people with multiple disabilities, the Parity Music Therapy Service can:

  • Accept referrals for music therapy from adults and children. Referrals may be made by the person themselves, by a family member or by a professional.

  • Offer individual or groupwork.

  • Be contracted to provide a music therapy service to other organisations such as schools, colleges, day centres, residential services etc.

  • Provide taster sessions or pilot projects.

  • Provide training to help people build their confidence in using music in other settings


What is Music Therapy?

 The ability to appreciate and respond to music is an inborn quality in human beings. Music Therapists use the power of music to make contact with people, to help them overcome their difficulties and to draw out their potential.

“Before my daughter had music therapy, she was often locked away in her own world. Music Therapy was the key that fitted the lock.” – Parent

In Music Therapy, spontaneous, interactive music making is used as a way of communicating. Clients are encouraged to experiment with accessible percussion instruments, and to use their voices if they wish. The music therapist establishes contact musically, by responding to and supporting the client’s sounds. Since many parts of the brain are used when someone is involved in music making, music can be used to achieve a variety of non-musical treatment aims, according to the needs of each individual.

“Having seen and heard what can be achieved, I’m a convert.” – Social worker


Who is Music Therapy for?

People are normally referred to music therapy because they are finding it difficult to cope, or are withdrawn, or because they need additional help to reach their potential. A measure of success is when a person uses their new found skills and confidence to relate better to other people, or is able to make fuller use of the opportunities available to them.

For example, Jim was difficult to reach because of his severe physical disabilities, and often seemed listless. However, he grinned from ear to ear when he realised that the therapist would sing back if he sounded his voice. Over time, he became increasingly motivated and alert.

Brenda used to bang her head when she became frustrated. She could not explain what was wrong. Music Therapy gave her a positive outlet, and a non-verbal experience of being listened to and understood. As she became more at ease with herself, staff also began to find it easier to negotiate with her and to find practical solutions.

(Names and details have been changed for anonymity)


Aims of Music Therapy

Music therapy treatment is always tailored to the individual. It may include one or more of the following areas:


  • The key to all progress, whether verbal or non-verbal.

  • Learning to listen and be listened to.

  • Gaining confidence to use one’s own abilities to the best effect in order to make rewarding relationships and friendships with others.


  • Increasing awareness and tolerance of others.

  • Learning how to relate more positively to others in group and individual situations.

  • Opportunities to experience sharing, taking turns, being in charge, accepting leadership from others.


  • Developing a positive and creative means of expressing feeling that, for whatever reason, cannot be put into words. This may range from joy to sadness, peacefulness to anger.

  • An opportunity to feel heard, understood, and safely supported – and as a result, to be able to move forwards. This work may particularly support people who have experienced bereavement, anxiety, abuse, or people with emotional disturbance or challenging behaviour.

Personal growth:

  • Developing individuality, self-awareness, motivation, confidence, initiative, creativity and choice-making.

Developmental work

  • Promoting normal stages of development at approprate levels, e.g. developing auditory, tactile, visual awareness; reaching, grasping, manipulation of instruments; attention, concentration and memory.




The purpose of the assessment is for you and the music therapist to see whether music therapy may be useful for you / the person being referred, and what the goals of music therapy might be.

Normally our assessment process includes a preliminary meeting, two music therapy sessions and a report. Where someone refers themselves for music therapy, they can agree an appropriate assessment / trial period, and how they would like to review it, with the music therapist.

The preliminary meeting is an opportunity for the therapist to find out more about the person being referred. This is likely to include their strengths and the areas where they may need help, how they communicate, and any approaches that have been found to be useful. Reasons for referral may also be discussed in more detail.

In the music therapy sessions the person will have the opportunity to explore the instruments and room, and to engage with the therapist through music. The therapist may try different musical approaches.

The report will summarise the discussion and reasons for referal. It will include observations about how the person engaged with the music therapy sessions, particularly in relation to the reasons for referral. It will make recommendations for future music therapy treatment if appropriate.


Music Therapy sessions are normally weekly. They are held in the same place and at the same time so that they are predictable, and so that the person receiving music therapy can focus on how they use the sessions rather than on worrying about the arrangements.

The length of treament varies from person to person, depending on how long it takes to address the reasons for referral. We normally maintain an ongoing dialogue and review with the client and /or the person who referred them, to discuss progress and developments and to decide when music therapy has achieved what we set out to achieve.


Who pays for music therapy?

There is a charge for music therapy sessions. Up to date prices can be obtained from the office.

Some people have been able to secure grants from Trusts. Occasionally, GPs or other statutory services have funded music therapy sessions. Where no other sources of funding are available, we are sometimes able to offer subsidised places to families to make music therapy affordable. This is dependant on funds being available. If you would like to know more, do ask the music therapist when you enquire about the service.


Providing a music therapy service for other organisations

If you work for an organisation and are interested in providing music therapy for the people who use your service, but without the costs of recruiting and employing someone yourselves, Parity can offer you a service. 

We will arrange an initial meeting with you to discuss your requirements and your budget, and advise and make plans accordingly. We can offer pilot projects, fixed-term projects and ongoing contracts. If you wish to raise funds to provide music therapy, we may be able to help with the wording for grant application forms.

Using a Parity music therapist, you will have assurance that they have an approved qualification, current registration with the Health Professions Council (now a legal requirement), CRB check, regular support and clinical supervision from experienced music therapists, and training opportunities.



We can provide training sessions to help people build their confidence in using music in other settings. We became music therapists because we are excited by the possibilities of music as a way of communicating with and sharing positive experiences with other people. We cannot train you to be music therapists, but we are happy to share some of our skills to help you make the most of your own music sessions.

These sessions will give you the opportunity to explore the instruments, try out some simple games and build your confidence in your own musical resources. You do not need any previous musical skills – just curiosity and a willingness to have a go!

Training we have offered has included:

  • Making the most of your music groups: Introduction to exploring musical instruments and simple activities – 1.5-2 hours
  • Developing skills for using music in mother-toddler groups, with insights from parent-infant interaction – 1 day

However, if you have something particular in mind, do ask us!


To enquire or make a referral

If you would like to find out more, or refer yourself or someone you know for music therapy, please telephone 01252 375581 or email

When you first contact us, we will take some initial information over the telephone and try to answer any questions you may have about music therapy, the service we offer and how music therapy might help. If you would like to go ahead with a referral, or explore further whether music therapy might be useful, you will have the opportunity to book an assessment.