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Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance Therapy

General overview

Art therapy, music therapy and dance therapy are three modes of intervention using art, music and dance respectively to promote, maintain and improve the client's mental, physical, socio-emotional and spiritual health. 

Jean Vinchon was the first psychiatrist to propose artistic activity as a therapeutic method in psychiatric hospitals in 1924. The first publication on Art as therapy dates from 1943, and is Adrian Hill's book, Art as an aid to illness: an experiment in occupational therapy. 


Today it is a true therapeutic discipline, art therapists are trained in both therapy and art, and have studied and mastered psychology and human development, after obtaining a master's degree.

Main objectives of the method
  • Development of communication

       - artistic artistic or bodily expression as an alternative or complementary modality of expression to the language

       - rhythm and music as a catalyst for language development or other forms of communication

  • Development of gross motor skills in dance therapy or fine motor skills in art therapy

  • Emotional development, emotion regulation, stress management, self-confidence

  • Development of learning, especially rhythm and music as a catalyst for the development of graphics and reading

Specificities of the method

The pleasure and motivation of the child in observation or artistic realization is at the heart of the method, because they will allow a commitment of the child, in contact with tools that will precisely meet his needs in terms of development.


For motor disorders, music therapy and dance therapy make it possible to build or strengthen the coordination of their movements, thanks to rhythms, musical phrases, repetitions of musical or motor movements.


For communication disorders, the vibration of musical instruments, work on rhythm, breathing and singing are all ways of developing communication and language.


The method also addresses the child's sensitivity and the regulation of his emotions.


Music therapy: the impact of rhythm and music on the brain is now well understood thanks to neuroscience (see many studies below)

Who is this method for ?

This method is aimed at children of all ages and offers tools adapted to their difficulties.

For example, for music-therapy: 

  • Autism spectrum disorders: the contribution of rhythm and music in particular, which have been the subject of scientific research that has made it possible to evaluate their effectiveness in improving the auditory process, reducing sensory hyper-sensitivities, improving communication, social interactions, etc.

  • Motor disorders, hemiparesis, cerebral palsy: contribution of rhythm and music to work on movement in music & dance therapy

  • Communication disorders: the contribution of rhythm and music to the development of communication and language, the contribution of artistic or corporal expression through dance as a means of expression

What parents say about it

"Hugo is in IME. Since January, a music therapist has been coming to the house every Thursday for half an hour. You can feel that he is relaxing and enjoying himself, because he talks about it a lot. He sings Couleur café de Gainsbourg in the shower and easily takes the guitar to play it. Of course, it is still a little early, but we hope that this will also serve to improve his ability to communicate. "Corinne, Hugo's mother

Scientific references

Music & rhythm

Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation

"Music provokes a response, which is universal, anchored in our evolutionary development and leads to marked changes in emotions and movements. The anatomical changes caused suggest that music should be considered as a means of stimulating the brain." "The therapeutic value of music can be explained in part by its cultural role in facilitating social learning and emotional well-being." "A number of studies have shown that rhythmic training of motor function can facilitate movement recovery in patients with stroke, Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury (Thaut, 2005)"


A review of "music and movement" therapies for children with autism: embodied interventions for multisystem development - Sudha M. Srinivasan and Anjana N. Bhat


Rhythm, movement, and autism: using rhythmic rehabilitation research as a model for autism - Michelle W. Hardy and A. Blythe LaGasse


Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation in Rehabilitation of Movement Disorders: A Review Of Current Research


Rhythm, movement, and autism: using rhythmic rehabilitation research as a model for autism


Reducing Auditory Hypersensitivities in Autistic Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Findings 


Evaluating the Listening Project Protocol, Stephen W. Porges, Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2014

Music as therapy, Kathi J. Kemper, 2005



Emotional responses to music: the need to consider underlying mechanisms, Patrik N. Juslin, 2008





Outcome Studies on the Efficacy of Art Therapy: A review of Findings, Sarah C. Clayton, 2010


Art Therapy and the Brain: an Attempt to Understand the Underlying Processes of Art Expression in Therapy, Vija B. Luserbrink, 2004

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

If you have any comments, suggestions for modifications or corrections or clarifications to make, please let us know by email at

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