Adolescent Mental Health Toolbox


“What do music therapy sessions with adolescents look like? How do I build rapport with teens? Where do I start with interventions?” These are common questions shared by beginning and seasoned music therapists. Considering how many different populations exist within this demographic (along with the complex growth period of adolescence combined with multifaceted personal experiences and perspectives of each teen) it is challenging to provide simple answers to these questions. Adolescent Mental Health Toolbox: Empowering Music Therapists to Support Teens in Clinical and Community Settings aims to provide practical considerations and creative goal-oriented interventions when working with groups in a variety of settings, including youth who are part of:

  • Acute in-patient mental health units
  • Out-patient support groups
  • After-school programs
  • Support groups for specific needs (ADHD, home instability, complex family dynamics, foster care, etc.)
  • Struggling with substance use
  • Victims of violence or abuse
  • Music enrichment programs


These intervention ideas are thorough enough that they can be replicated exactly to create a successful therapeutic session, or they can be modified to incorporate any therapist’s unique artistic interpretation. Expand on interventions in order to create up to a one hour session of therapeutic support through music, or use two or more interventions interchangeably to create a multi-dynamic session that can accommodate hours of exceptional music therapy!

All MusicWorx Toolbox Self-Study Courses are approved by the CBMT for 15 Continuing Music Therapy Education ( CMTE ) credits. MusicWorx Inc., #P-097, maintains responsibility for program quality and adherence to CBMT policies and criteria.

CMTE credits are downloadable content.  Links to this content are included in your emailed receipt or found in your account!  Read More On CMTE Course Credits >

SKU CMTE-002 Category

What’s Inside This Toolbox

  • 94 single-sided pages with related links to handouts, lyrics, outlines, articles, and resources
  • User-friendly digital format – Just click a title or link to jump to that page!
  • Introduction and considerations to working with adolescents
  • Five broad goal areas with six types to make up 30 interventions targeted for adolescents
  • Written in a format for groups, but easily adaptable for individual sessions
  • Virtual adaptations to EVERY intervention!
  • Sample documentation and tips for program development
  • Recommendations of popular songs and topics for lyric analysis with teens


  • How to Use This Toolbox
  • Teen Toolbox Nuts and Bolts
  • Considerations for Teens Session
  • Types of Interventions
  • GOAL: Emotional
    • Active Music Making: Play That Emotion 
    • Songwriting: Black-Out Poetry
    • Music and Movement: Shake It Out
    • Creative Expression: Mansion
    • Mindfulness: Music and Emotions
    • Leisure: Emotions Bingo
  • GOAL: Social and Communication
    • Active Music Making: Create a Band
    • Songwriting: Cut-Ups
    • Music and Movement: Zip-Zap-Zop – Body Percussion
    • Creative Expression: Song Columns Poetry/Rap
    • Mindfulness: Music Mindfulness
    • Leisure: Musical Telephone
  • GOAL: Cognitive 
    • Active Music Making: Learning an Instrument
    • Songwriting: Madlibs
    • Music and Movement: Egg Shaker Pass
    • Creative Expression: Song Title Mash-Up
    • Mindfulness: To Play or Not to Play?
    • Leisure: Make a Musician
  • GOAL: Identity and Awareness
    • Active Music Making: Beach Ball Autonomy
    • Songwriting: Social Stamina
    • Music and Movement: Dance Flow
    • Creative Expression: Warrior
    • Mindfulness: HUMS Music Assessment
    • Leisure: Egg Shaker Toss
  • GOAL: Coping and Self-Care
    • Active Music Making: Karaoke
    • Songwriting: Garageband Beats
    • Music and Movement: Proprioceptive Input
    • Creative Expression: Personal Album Artwork
    • Mindfulness: Mental Vacation
    • Leisure: The Alphabet Challenge
  • Intervention Index
  • Documentation
  • Music Resources and Song List
  • About the Authors
  • References

Learning Objectives

References to items on the Board Certification Domains are based on the Practice Analysis Study of 2019. Those registered for "Adolescent Mental Health Toolbox: Empowering Music Therapists to Support Teens in Clinical and Community Settings" will develop or improve their abilities to help others express themselves through active music-making, writing songs, and by analyzing lyrics. Participants will learn these skills for group settings and individual work.

"Adolescent Mental Health Toolbox: Empowering Music Therapists to Support Teens in Clinical and Community Settings" addresses these specific competencies in the current Board Certification Domains:

Learning Objective 1
2020 Domains:
I. 2-3 | I. 5 | I. 8 | I. 10 | II. B. 13 | II. D. 9 | III. A. 1

Describe three considerations when working with adolescents and how you would implement them in your practice or program.

I. Safety
II. Referral, Assessment, Interpretation of Assessment and Treatment Planning
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Learning Objective 2
2020 Domains:
II. D. 6 | II. D. 9 | II. D. 10 | II. D. 13 | III. A. 2 | III. A. 5 (e-g, i-m, p, r-y, aa-bb, dd-hh)

Identify 3-5 goal areas for a facility/program session(s). Create three session plans from the interventions in the book based on the goals.

II. Referral, Assessment, Interpretation of Assessment and Treatment Planning
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation

Learning Objective 3
2020 Domains:
III. A. 1 (f) | V. A. 1-3

What are some things you learned about yourself when exploring this resource?

III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation
V. Professional Development and Responsibilities

Learning Objective 4
2020 Domains:
III. A. 1 (f) | V. A. 1-3

When considering music with adolescents, what are some music genres that you utilize more often and what are some genres that you feel less comfortable using?

III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation
V. Professional Development and Responsibilities

Cassandra Richtsmeier, MT-BC and Kevin R. Budd, MM, MT-BC

Cassandra Richtsmeier, MT-BC is a graduate of the University of North Dakota with a BA in Music Therapy and minor in psychology. She completed her internship in Las Vegas, NV as the first music therapy intern at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, providing support to patients with neurodegenerative disease diagnoses. After receiving her MT-BC and Neurologic Music Therapy certification in 2019, she began working at MusicWorx later that year. She is honored to serve a variety of populations, including adult inpatient medical hospitals, people with Parkinson’s Disease, older adults with memory care needs, hospice, and teens in mental health, as well as providing internship supervision at various sites. Cassandra is passionate about providing opportunities for comfort, support, and expression through music experiences and therapeutic connection.


Kevin R. Budd, MM, MT-BC has over five years of direct clinical experience treating adolescents and supporting mental health communities. Kevin developed and currently leads the music therapy program within the Mental Health Inpatient Center at Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Southern California. To further expand his clinical skills and expertise with mental health populations, he is progressing through the graduate counseling program at California State University in Fullerton, CA. Additionally, Kevin co-supervises music therapy students/interns and recently presented on this population at the 2022 WRAMTA Regional Conference in Seattle, WA. Kevin aims to redefine what short-term mental health treatment looks like for children, adolescents, and young adults. He is incredibly grateful to be providing a resource to the music therapy community and hopes it can offer more confidence and insight when working with adolescents.

  • I greatly enjoyed all the materials presented in the course and it gave me some great resources and ideas for my new job at a new grief resource center.

    Carly Legg, MT-BC - April 2024
  • Thanks again for another great class. I currently do not work in this population, but I have so many ideas from this class to implement into my practice as I work with people of all ages on the Medicaid Waiver. I am also a mom of 2 teenagers, and this class will also help my overall self. Thanks again for creating a great resource for me.

    Jennifer Davis, MT-BC - June 2023