April 2021 blog

Tips for Teletherapy

In my six-month telehealth music therapy internship, I went from feeling wholly clueless to feeling comfortable providing teletherapy music therapy services. At the start, I felt a clear separation from my clients due to the geographic barriers of the camera and the screen and I felt a disconnect. I found it takes a new skillset, with some stark differences from the normal line of in-person music therapy sessions. I’ll discuss a bit about some of the things I learned and helpful resources.


  • Even if the client’s audio and video freeze, KEEP GOING! Even though you may be unable to view the client, they can sometimes still see and hear you.
  • Always have back-up physical items for your interventions, even if you plan to use electronic elements in the therapeutic aspects (e.g., physical choice icons). From experience, having this backup modality is important when screen-sharing capabilities stop working, a browser or application freezes, or any other nightmare-like technological situation.
  • Invest the money in a webcam and USB microphone. Audio and video quality make or break a session.
  • Do not hesitate to use electronic means to encourage participation. For example, I found that, when my adolescent special education students are sick of interacting with me, the integration of a music video into the session will engage them and bring them back to the task at hand. I have used them both as a means for receptive reading comprehension and as a contingent reward for participation.
  • In group sessions, if using Zoom make sure to “spotlight” the person that everyone’s attention should be on. This will make their video larger than other clients for easy attention.


  • Chrome Music Lab is a website that provides tools to explore music and its connections to academic subjects.
  • Use online spinners in sessions to promote autonomy. Perhaps have clients tap the camera when they are ready and click “spin” when they do so.
  • Google Slides- view THIS great tutorial on how to effective use Google Slides.
  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint
  • Keynote
  • On her website, Danielle Keaton, MT-BC, creates a copious amount of Google Slides presentations to use in telehealth sessions. Zoom whiteboard screen-sharing
  • Giving clients control of your desktop, if appropriate.
  • Telehealth music therapy continued education courses, such as the one by Music for Kiddos
  • Use a green screen and the Zoom virtual background feature to meet the visual and sensory needs of each client.
  • Join Facebook groups such as the Music Therapy Teletherapy Swap, where Music Therapists from all over share their ideas and interventions.

Good luck in your sessions! If you ever have any questions, reach out to others in the Music Therapy community. There are always people who can provide words of wisdom!

Livia Umeda

WFMT Student Delegate for North America