Hi all, I’m looking to develop some dialogue dealing with the differences and similarities between the assessment and treatment Process. I’m particularly interested in the work phase protocols and procedures that MTs are employing in their work and how these change during assessment and then treatment.

I understand that for most or some MTs these processes may be an intuitive process. That’s what has guided my work process for many years until becoming an MT educator and clinical supervisor. Thus, I have always found it challenging to teach music therapy students this process of understanding, clinically, the difference in the work phases between assessment and treatment; and have found, for the most part, that they (students) grasp the concepts intellectually, however, at times , difficult for them to translate this into clinic practice. Thus, I’m posting these questions through the lens of an educator/supervisor. Hence, I’m looking to see how others manage this process and how they articulate it with their students and/or MT students.

I have found that, for some experienced clinicians, including myself, the process of understanding and conceptualizing these processes are reversed. We can act it out clinically in a relatively fluid and “easy” manner when working with the client, but may have difficultly breaking it down and articulating it to a student or new MT I terms of the dynamics, process, perspective, and action.

I would love to see what others think on these teaching and supervising challenges. I would love to hear from MT STUDENTS!

All the best,


Follow me on FacebookDevelopmental Music Health

Follow me on twitter: DrJohnMTBC

See New Assessment Publication: IMCAP-ND: A Clinical Manual



About drjohnmtbc

John A. Carpente, PhD, MT-BC, LCAT, NRMT, Assistant Professor in Music and Music Therapy at Molloy College, is the Founder and Executive Dir

7 responses »

  1. Alan Turry says:

    what comes to my mind first is that in an assessment I am going to try and introduce different experiences to get a a parameter of what draws the child into musical experience- is this a tonal child who likes high register, a rhythmic child who likes syncopation etc?. I also want to get a baseline- will they respond to changes in tempo and dynamics.? How do they listen? What are the sensory issues if there are ? So I am more direct in bringing these experiences to the child that may give me answers. This is a period of time rather than one session but once this period is established the musical experiences are established and an awareness of the child’s developmental potential is more concretized and clinical direction is established

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Alan,
      what’s your experience in teaching trainees these various skill sets? one of the things that has come up for me when teaching or supervising an assessment sessions, within a music-centered framework, is that the student’s musical tendencies may come out in session,s resulting in the client not receiving a range of musical opportunities to display their strengths, challenges, and differences; Thus, leading. All of that being said, how can we help students move through this process??

  2. Patricia Winter says:

    Hi John, I would love to be a part of this discourse. I struggle with teaching and supervising the assessment piece mostly because it is so unarticulated in our profession. Case in point, I worked with an SLP this summer and she was able to use a myriad of assessments, cut and dry, valid, reliable that clearly articulated an assessment phase which supported development of goals and objectives, moving seamlessly into a treatment phase. I don’t have to tell you that for music therapists that is not the case. Assessments are often driven by institutions rather than the profession and are not what I would consider an assessment but rather an intake process with the music therapist left to stumble around in assessment until the work of treatment begins. I am without a doubt projecting my own feelings and frustrations onto all of this. I think your assessment is getting us closer to where we need to be in terms of thinking of offering AN assessment that helps to articulate goals and objectives and provides the foundation for the working part of the treatment phase.
    Even though I have used assessment measures from other professions I do not feel that these measures adequately assess the resources or needs of the clients from the perspective of music therapy and they can lead us down a slippery slope of trying to “fit” into the domains of other professions rather than helping to define the direction of the treatment phase.

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Trish and all, in bringing up other disciplines, such as speech therapy and OT, you have made a really good point. Although those disciplines are concrete, one if the main reasons, i feel that make their speciality easily understood is because they work (assess/treat) consistently within the same paradigm where as MTs I feel mix or combine paradigms. For example, can relationship-based music therapy evidence be relevant in neuro-based work? I would say no. But for some reason, we tend to “measure” or conceptualize the work in a paradigm that’s not congruent with practice. What music-centered relationship based therapists call evidence based, behavioral based MTs wouldn’t (and vice verse). In my opinion, I don’t think that we can combine paradigms. The essence of one is not essence of another. Thus, interventions, assessments, and outcomes look and sound different.

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Hi Trish and all (copied from our FB discussion), you bring up a great point in regards to MTs having to assess a series of domain areas that generally a) live outside of the realm of MUSIC experiences in therapy. One of the things that the IMCAP-ND brings to MT assessment is a consistent way of working, thinking, and conceptualizing the client. in other words, the paradigm (maintains throughout) , i feel, is focused and concentrated viewing and experiencing music from a music-centered perspective within the context of relationship (social-emotional) in musical-play. I have found that many MTs equate music centered thinking to to music based or musical skill based goals (i’m not sure where this comes from), and, in no way am I implying musical skill development when referring to the IMCAP-ND. IMCAP-ND working in the social-emotional dimensions of musical-play.Thus, the MT is evaluating the dynamics of music making between therapist-client as opposed to some other assessments (as Trish alluded to) in which the MT is attempting to assess several domain areas which generally exist outside his/her expertise.

  3. Kathleen Nace says:

    Hi John, and all,
    I am very interested in this discussion. In starting the Music therapy practice at my current location, I was responsible for developing an assessment procedure. I now have had a graduate level intern, and will have an undergrad intern that I am supposed to ‘train’ on this. I make it clear that there is no 1 way, and that we do what we can to get the best idea of the client and how to develop their goals. My process is this: Upon speaking with the parents, I explain that the assessment could take up to three weeks – and even beyond that point, when their goals have been developed, there may be need to modify the goals as our relationship develops. During our first meeting I let the client explore the music therapy space, in order to see what instruments they gravitate towards, how long they attend when multiple options are given, etc. I attempt to engage them in familiar songs or activities, again to develop a relationship. This first session is very much directed by the client. Moving forward, I tend to think in terms of the IMTAP. I’m very excited about the IMCAP-ND but for now, I’ve found the IMTAP assists me in ‘remembering’ to think about all of the various domain areas. I actually just mentioned to my part time MTs that I would like to try to develop set activities that fall under each domain area, so that we have a more structured assessment – keeping in mind that a lot of creative activities are also happening during this time and that not everything needs to be structured. Also please keep in mind that I work for The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health, and am certified in NMT as well. While I tend to work under many different philosophies, and one of my therapists is trained in Nordoff-Robbins, my center certainly appreciates as much data and structure that I can provide. Again, my idea of using the IMTAP as a framework has helped me to process through all of the various domain areas and goals/objectives that we as music therapists can work on. It also helps me to remember that we are writing our goals as non-music goals that can be achieved through a musical intervention. I can’t wait to hear more about the IMCAP-ND!
    Kathleen Nace

    • drjohnmtbc says:

      Thank you, Kathleen for sharing your experiences regarding assessment. And thanks also for your interest in the IMCAP-ND. Do keep me posted on your experiences in applying the IMCAP-ND in your work. Best, John

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s