The Clinical Practice Model for Persons With Dementia: Application to Music Therapy


Music Therapy Perspectives




Currently, no drug can cure or effectively mitigate symptoms for the growing number of individuals who live with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. As they experience declines in memory, communication, and thinking—symptoms that undermine social initiative, autonomy, and well-being—these individuals become increasingly dependent on others. Evidence regarding the benefits of music therapy for persons with dementia is growing. Nonetheless, limitations in existing research have hindered knowledge regarding the use and appropriate application of music as a form of treatment with this population. This article describes the development of The Clinical Practice Model for Persons with Dementia, which provides a theoretical framework to inform evidence-based practice, illustrated here in application to music therapy. Specifically, the model is intended to prompt purposeful application of strategies documented within a broad literature base within 6 thematic areas (Cognition, Attention, Familiarity, Audibility, Structure, and Autonomy); facilitate clinical decision-making and intervention development, including music interventions; and encourage discourse regarding relationships between characteristics of the intervention, the therapist, the person with dementia, and their response to intervention. The model comprises a set of testable assumptions to provide direction for future research and to facilitate the description and investigation of mechanisms underlying behavioral interventions with this population. Although the model is likely to evolve as knowledge is gained, it offers a foundation for holistically considering an individual’s needs and strengths, guidance for applying music and nonmusic strategies in evidence-based practice, and direction for future research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Functional Status; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Symptom Management

Indexed Terms

Alzheimer disease; dementia; clinical education; music therapy education; evidence-based practice; models; Clinical Practice; Evidence Based Practice; Clinical Models; Alzheimer's Disease; Education; Graduate Education

Study Type

Editorial, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type