Attachment or acceptance present diﬀerently for families of adopted children. The children may have been in living situations where attachment was not possible; adoptive parents may be unaware of previous issues or successes. Language barriers, new homes and rules, diﬀerent food and clothing, or busier and/or noisier, or quieter, home environments can all hinder the attachment process (Stovall-McClough & Dozier, 2004). These children also may have undiagnosed medical, cognitive, or behavioral issues which can make attachment diﬃcult. Families may be worried about the birth parents changing their minds or adoption agencies declaring the adoptive family unfit and reversing the placement. Families in these situations may withhold attachment or acceptance until they are more secure in their future. Music therapy can support both of the presented theories of attachment in individual or group therapy settings (Standley, Walworth, Engel, & Hillmer, 2011). The following is a list of interventions and approaches that can help make music therapy sessions more eﬀective in building attachment: Infant directed singing. Music therapists can support parents in singing with their infants and young children in the neonatal intensive care unit, in individual sessions, and in groups. Parents are encouraged to make eye and physical contact as they are able with their child while singing simple songs to them. Parents may be hesitant to sing in front of others, but oﬀering quiet guitar or other accompaniment may provide the support and encouragement parents and other caregivers need to bond with the child (Cevasco, 2008; de l’Etoile, 2006; O’Gorman, 2006; O’Gorman, 2007; Standley & Madsen, 1990; Whipple, 2000). Face-to-face interactions. Prompting children and parents to engage in interventions, which encourage them to face each other while sharing music can aid in supporting attachment and acceptance. Providing opportunities to turn oﬀ electronics such as smart phones, televisions, and tablet devices and thus truly connect can be valuable for families (Napier, 2014). Interventions such as lap songs, singing together, finger plays (with assistance as needed), and moving with scarves or other props which could allow for
imagine 5(1), 2014
privacy (child and parent under the scarf at the same time) or cooperation (peek-a-boo) can help promote attachment and acceptance. Reduce parental stress and anxiety. While parental goals are not always the focus of early childhood music therapy sessions, reducing their feelings of stress and anxiety can increase their attachment to and acceptance of their children (Tharner et al., 2012). Music therapists can provide a safe environment in which parents can relax, feel supported, and find new ways to engage with their children. Music therapy sessions also may encourage parents to ask questions or discuss their concerns. Guidance for reading cues. Parents of children with special needs or children who are ill may have diﬃculty detecting or understanding the way their child interacts or bids for their attention. Music therapists can educate parents by guiding them in how to interact and engage with their children, show developmental stages, and thereby reinforce parental eﬀorts for attachment and acceptance (Wheeler & Stultz, 2008). Music therapy can make learning these skills fun, relaxed, and non-threatening (Abad & Williams, 2007) Adaptation. Music therapists can adapt interventions so children who have diﬃculty with motor skills, cognitive processing, or interaction can still engage with their parents. Showing parents how to adapt their bids for attachment and providing them with activities to meet the abilities and needs of their child can make the interactions positive for all involved. Attaining attachment is an important developmental step for children of all abilities. Music therapists can play an important role in assisting families with building these skills. Through infant directed singing, face-to-face interactions, reducing parental stress and anxiety, guidance, and adaption, music therapists can provide supportive environments that not only build attachment for these children today but build a foundation for attachment patterns that will endure for life.
The focus of imagine 2014 is on family-centered practice – a trend taking hold in music therapy circles worldwide. While many practitioners...