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Music as an environmental control is defined as the intentional use of music as a prompt, structure, reinforcement, or reward in order to accomplish behavioral goals. "The fundamental role of the therapist in the behavioral model is to create an enviuronment in which positive, desirable behaviors are rewarded (reinforced), and negative behaviors are reduced by eliminating reinforcement of those negative actions (Corey, 2001). In order to do this, the therapist, sometimes in conjunction with the client, will evaluate the client's present behaviors. Problem behaviors are identified, and the extent to which they occur is noted... Then the therapist works with the client to explore how these behaviors should be changed... Music listening or participation can be used as a reward to help change behavior in the desired direction... [as well as] the therapist's time and attention" (Gfeller & Thaut, 2008).








Corey, G. (2001). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (6th ed.). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Gfeller, K. E. and Thaut, M. H. (2008). Music Therapy in the Treatment of Behavioral-Emotional Disorders. In Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K. E., and Thaut, M. H. (3rd Edition) An Introduction to Music Therapy: Theory and Practice (209-246). Silver Spring, MD: The American Music Therapy Association, Inc.

Further ReadingEdit

Madsen, Charles H. & Madsen, Clifford K. (1998). Teaching / Discipline: A Positive Approach for Educational Development. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, Inc.


James E. Riley, MT-BC