Accessing music therapy in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
Music therapy can help address the needs and goals of people with disabilities. Participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can access music therapy in their NDIS plans.
Music therapy, delivered by a Registered Music Therapist (RMT), has been recognised by the NDIS for inclusion under the support cluster of Capacity Building - Improved Daily Living. This includes assessment, recommendation, therapy and/or training (including early childhood intervention). The therapy is aimed to increase skills for independence in daily, practical activities such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions and community participation. Music therapy can be delivered to individuals or groups.
Music therapy is a profession where music is used to support people to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing. Music therapists are musicians who have trained at university to understand how music can have an effect on behaviours, on how people feel and how people think.
Music therapists are committed to helping people of any age, ability or background. They work with preschool aged children through to older adults.
Music therapists work with people to make goals to be worked on in music therapy. These goals might be communication goals, social goals, movement goals, mood and feelings goals, and/or spiritual goals. In a music therapy session people might sing, play instruments, dance, write their own songs and record them, perform, listen and talk about music.
Some of the places music therapists work in are schools, day services, community centres, hospitals and in people’s homes. Music therapy sessions might be individual or in a group.
Click here for more detailed information about music therapy https://www.austmta.org.au/content/what-music-therapy
Easy Read Video - Children and Adolescents
Easy Read Video - Adults
How music therapy can help
Music therapy can help people living with a mental and/or physical disability. It is used to help a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, behaviour, communication and movement including:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Personality disorders
- Physical disability
Research has shown that music therapy can help people in many ways such as:
Improve and regulate emotion, mood and behaviour
- Reduce anxiety or stress
- Help regulate moods and energy levels
- Increase motivation
- Manage anger and frustration
- Manage challenging behaviour.
Improve body function, movement and mobility
- Improve gross motor function and control: gross motor skills are the larger movements you make with your arms legs, feet, or entire body.
- Improve fine motor function and control: fine motor skills are the smaller movements you make using your wrists, hands, fingers, feet and toes.
- Improve balance
- Increase physical independence
- Help regulate heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure
- Reduce breathlessness and sleeplessness.
Improve mental processes
- Increase core executive functions: self-awareness, inhibition, non-verbal and verbal working memory, emotional self-regulation, self-motivation, planning and problem solving
- Increase memory and attention.
Improve communication and social skills
- Improve verbal and non-verbal communication
- Increase social communication skills
- Increase social interaction
- Increase independence
- Give positive and new ways to deal with situations.
Improve ability to deal with pain
- Reduce pain, by increasing the body’s production of natural pain killers.
- Support faster recovery from medical procedures.
How your music therapist will support you to achieve your NDIS goals
Registered Music Therapists plan, facilitate and evaluate music therapy programs tailored to your needs, to help you achieve your health and well-being goals. They use evidence-based techniques to address a range of cognitive, behavioural, communication, physical and, socio-emotional goals.
To ensure the best outcome for you, your music therapist may work with your health care team of family members, carers and other health experts like Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, and Speech Therapists.
Music therapy is provided as an allied health service under Capacity Building - Improved Daily Living. Capacity Building supports help participants to increase their skills for independence in daily, practical activities such as language and communication, personal care, mobility and movement, interpersonal interactions and community participation.
Music therapy is considered a ‘therapeutic support’ in the NDIS.
NDIS Support Purpose
NDIS Outcome domain
NDIS Support Category
What it means for you
Improved Daily Living
(In the myplace portal, it is the ‘CB Daily Activity’)
Assessment, training, develop and/or therapy to help in the development of, or increase in skills for independence and community participation.
If you have funding for ‘Improved Daily Living’, you can choose to use all or part of your funding for music therapy.
Your music therapy has to:
- Be provided by a Registered Music Therapist. Click here to find a Registered Music Therapist.
- Be considered a reasonable and necessary service.
- Help you reach your NDIS goals.
Your music therapy can be delivered to you individually or within a group. However, it does not include community music groups or music lessons.
Community Music Groups - These may include community musicians who facilitate bands, community choirs or drumming workshops. You do not need to be a Registered Music Therapist to do this work, although some Registered Music Therapists also do this work. This work is not funded under therapeutic supports by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This is seen as a mainstream support.
Music Lessons - Music teachers teach people how to sing or play instruments. You do not need to be a Registered Music Therapist to do this work, although some do teach music as well. Music lessons are not funded under therapeutic supports by the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but may be funded under Capacity Building, ‘Increased Social and Community Participation’.
Your Registered Music Therapist will conduct sessions with you face-to-face. This is done either in person or online. Music therapists use a range of music making methods. They tailor each session to your needs and goals. A session may include:
- Listening to music played by the music therapist.
- Listening to recorded music.
- Making music by playing an instrument or singing.
- Using or writing lyrics and songs.
- Getting resources and activities to do outside of your music therapy session.
To ensure the best outcome for you, your music therapist may work with your health care team of family members, carers and other health experts like Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, and Speech Therapists. Your music therapist may:
- Lead therapy sessions with another health expert
- Observe other health providers working with you
- Attend team meetings
- Coach and show others how they can support you
- Share assessment and progress notes, and
- Consult with other health providers about resources and equipment.
How to find a music therapist
Find a registered provider by searching within the Find a Music Therapist search box to the right of this page.
If you are told that you cannot include music therapy in your NDIS plan, please:
- Refer the person to this website
- Forward a copy of the Music Therapy in Disability: Information booklet
- Refer to these letters of support from Federal MP, Pat Conroy and the General Manager of Access and Planning for the NDIS, William Garton
- Contact the Australian Music Therapy Association NDIS representative: firstname.lastname@example.org