Music Therapy for the Mental Health Needs of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (IDs): A Qualitative Survey of Clinical Practices and Perspectives

Thumbnail Image
Knapp, Savannah
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The purpose of this study was to collect information through a qualitative survey regarding the clinical practices and perspectives of music therapists (MT-BCs) for supporting the mental health needs of individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (IDs). The results from the eight participants revealed that MT-BCs may be aware of the presence of mental health needs, higher risk of trauma, differences in mental health needs, and the false assumptions related to ID and mental health, but there are personal gaps in knowledge regarding mental health needs. Participants believe that their role in supporting these needs is through promoting and aiding in self-expression, fostering connection, demonstrating the use of music for generalizable skills, and addressing needs in the moment; all while staying within their scope of practice. Participants work towards emotional skills and self-expression goals, and they utilize various improvisational, re-creative, compositional, and receptive music experiences to address these goals. Participants adapt these music experiences through simplification, adapted aids, addressing sensory needs, and providing more structure. Participants would like there to be more education and discussion on this topic, mental health needs to be addressed in music therapy sessions, and for MT-BCs to stop making false assumptions related to ID and mental health. This information can be used to inform the clinical practices of current and future music therapists in supporting individuals with IDs.