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The Individualized Music Therapy Assessment Profile, IMTAP

br2009_098Baxter, Holly Tuesday, Berghofer, Julie Allis, MacEwan, Lesa, Nelson, Judy , Peters, Kasi & Roberts, Penny (2007). The Individualized Music Therapy Assessment Profile, IMTAP. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Assessment scales that are comprehensive and systematically developed and tested are needed in music therapy to ensure clinicians are providing the most appropriate therapy programs and that client progress is accurately evaluated. The Individualized Music Therapy Assessment Profile otherwise referred to as IMTAP contributes to addressing this need. Developed by six music therapists in the US, the assessment as described in the manual, has been specifically designed for assessing the skills of children and adolescents with special needs; multiple severe physical disabilities, communication disorders, autism, severe emotional disturbances, social impairments, and learning disabilities. Ten domains: gross motor, fine motor, oral motor, sensory, receptive, communication/auditory perception, expressive communication, cognitive, social, emotional and musicality are assessed, each of which contain sub-domains, in total, 374 separate domains. The assessment tool was developed through a systematic literature review of various standardized assessments in music therapy and across a range of allied health and child development fields and then when items were created; these were reviewed and tested by a field of experts including music therapists.

The majority of the contents of the manual details the procedures used for implementing the assessment including how to tally at the domain and sub-domain level. The scoring system is sophisticated and does produce a comprehensive profile of the client’s abilities and impairments. A particular feature that was impressive in this assessment tool is the capacity to review skills that cross-domains. For example, the skill assessed “follows two-step verbal directions” appears in the cognitive domain, the receptive communication/auditory perception domain, and the social domain. The comprehensive assessment of musicality is especially impressive, with specific musical activities provided.

Clinicians are able to graphically represent the data at the domain and sub-domain levels so that specific strengths and weaknesses are clearly identified. This allows the clinician to eye-ball the data looking for trends, changes over time, and possible areas for the focus of future music therapy sessions. The forms used during the assessment process are included at the end of the manual, and in PDF form on the accompanying CD-ROM for clinicians to copy and use. The procedures in the manual are clearly explained and the reader should find little difficulty in implementing the procedures. Case studies are included which illustrate how this might be used in clinical practice.

A key feature of this contribution is the inclusion of this CD-ROM which provides the possibility for the clinician to input data from assessments directly into software files and track progress over time. Further, the assessment approaches and data analysis tools may be used for research purposes, particularly for case study designs such as multiple base line, applied behavior analysis designs.

This assessment tool needs to be evaluated for reliability and validity measures. It would be useful for it to be tested on a general child and adolescent population to detect norms. While it is criterion referenced, establishing a mechanism where by the assessment can be compared between clients and against norms would strengthen the value of this assessment tool for music therapy practice.

I highly recommend this manual to clinicians working in the special education setting and for music therapy educators and students. I hope that the publication of this assessment stimulates other music therapy researchers to develop similar types of scales for other clinical populations.

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