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Aaris Therapy’s Music Therapist: Allison St. George, MA, MT-BC, NMT

Neurologic Music therapy, is based in a neuroscience model of music perception and production. This model focuses on the functional changes music can have on the brain. NMT is comprised of researched based techniques in three domains. These include sensorimotor, speech/language, and cognition. Michael Thaut and colleagues at the Center for Biomedical Research in music at Colorado State University pioneered the correlation of these techniques to neural research. In short the research that has been conducted using NMT techniques are built upon the findings that specific brain areas that are being activated by music are not just unique to music, for the networks that process music also process other functions. Although a more recent study revealed that there is a distinct cortical pathway that responds specifically to music. Thaut and McCintosh (another pioneer in the NMT world) researched that the brain areas that are involved in music are also active in processing language, auditory perception, attention, memory, executive functioning and motor control.

Think of music therapy as an over arching umbrella and NMT falls underneath that umbrella. Although there are many areas within that large umbrella of music therapy I tend to lean into the NMT model while still being fully committed to using music as a mechanism for change and empowerment (e.g. socially, emotionally) within an individual which is imperative to acknowledge and build upon.

Music therapy as a treatment modality for Autism Spectrum Disorder is supported through research in the areas of behavior, cognition, communication, social skills, and emotional regulation. The rhythmic component of music creates organization in the sensory systems which can contribute to enhancing auditory processing and sensorimotor skills such as gross and fine motor. As a related service under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) music therapy can also provide motivation and assist in achieving IEP goals and objectives.