The Transformational Design Model:
Have you ever felt lost for how to address a certain goal with a client? Maybe you’ve never worked with that population before, addressed their specific goals, or are simply at a loss for inspiration? This past week I learned about one of the most useful models to make sure every intervention is functional and effective, called The Transformational Design Model (TDM)!
The Transformational Design Model, developed by Dr. Michael Thaut is a system to help therapists translate research into functional clinical practice. It ensures that each intervention is backed by research and intentional goals, which in turn brings the best results for clients! This model also ensures interventions are generalizable back to the clients daily life, which is an essential part of the process. It emphasizes a patient-centered rather than discipline-centered therapy and also helps music therapists to avoid two weaknesses:
- An activity-based approach in which generic musical activities are adapted to therapeutic goals
- The use of therapeutic music techniques that address therapeutic goals very broadly and generally, and are only weakly related to functional therapeutic outcomes
There are five parts to The Transformational Design Model:
- List the client’s strengths/needs
- Write out one goal/objective you would like to focus on (based on their needs)
- How this goal/objective would be addressed by a non-music therapist (speech therapist, physical therapist, teacher, etc.)
- How could you add musical stimuli to that exercise? (don’t just write a music experience-add music to the experience above).
- How could you generalize back to the normal environment? (fade the music)
- Strengths & needs: Client has great rhythm and songwriting skills, and loves creating new songs. Client needs improved emotional awareness and coping skills for handling difficult emotions
- Goal: Increase ability to calm down when upset
- Non-music therapist: Drawing out what how to calm down, writing a poem or brainstorming ideas
- Create a songwriting intervention centered around coping strategies and ways to calm down when upset. Music helps to concrete these ideas in one’s mind and makes them easier to draw from memory when a situation arises.
- Generalization: Create in session scenarios to practice calming down and using techniques written in song.
This model is so helpful for going back to the basics and making sure that your interventions will make a real impact on your client!
I hope this model is helpful for you!
You’ll hear music therapists tell you time and time again, “Music therapy is an EVIDENCE BASED field!” What we do it backed by empirical research, and we’re very proud of this fact. However, the fact that the field is supported by research showing the efficacy of using music as a therapeutic tool for accomplishing non-musical goals does not make music therapy a lone-ranger in the world of therapies. There’s a key phrase I used in the previous sentence: “non-musical goals”. This means that the goals we are addressing in music therapy are similar to the goals our client’s are working on in their other therapies (speech, occupational, physical, behavioral, and cognitive rehabilitation therapies, etc.). So, in the Neurologic Music Therapy branch of our field, in particular, when setting up our interventions for addressing a non-musical goal, we like to use a model called the Transformational Design Model (TDM).
Transformational Design Model! It sounds like a superpower. And in a way, it is. It’s the superpower model that transforms non-musical interventions into musical interventions. Because music therapy has the same functional structure as other therapies, music therapists use this model to see where the overlap is with other fields, and then how the addition of music to a treatment intervention can benefit the client. But wait, there’s more! This superpower model transforms the functional music intervention into functional, non-musical real-world application. In short, we’re not going to let you walk around singing the steps to making conversation. We’re going to help you generalize the information you learned through music, so that when you apply it to everyday life, you’re doing it in a socially acceptable and sustainable (functional) way.
I know you’re dying to find out how one mere mortal can acquire such a superpower. Well, lucky for you, we can let you in on the bare bones of the model. I take myself through these steps every time I develop an intervention for a client, and it helps ensure the quality and efficacy of my interventions. Ok, are you ready to be transformed?
- Asses the client’s strengths and needs
- Develop the goals and objectives
- Research how a non-music therapist addresses this same goal and design a functional non-musical intervention
- Translate step 3 into a functional musical intervention
- Transfer step 4 to functional, non-musical real-life application
This model is a superpower not just in the fact that it transforms a non-musical skills into a musical experience and then back into a non-musical skill, but also in the fact that it allows multiple therapeutic fields to see their overlap. The more therapists from varying fields can work together, the more well-rounded the treatment plan becomes, and the more the client will benefit. Go transform something!