Tacpac Therapy is Not New Age

Hilary Wainer, co-founder of Tacpac

AQ asks: “I was wondering do you know anything about Tacpac. It seems ok for sensory processing but when I googled the music of Tacpac it seemed that the music was meditation type music.”

Tacpac, which stands for a Tactile Approach to Communication pack, is a type of therapy that combines the sense of touch and music through social interaction. It is particularly beneficial for people with sensory processing difficulties, sensory impairment (blindness/deafness) loss of memory, etc. It is used by learning disability nurses, speech therapists, psychologists and occupational therapists but parents, caregivers and teachers can also learn this method.

Based on the idea of tactile play, it uses the skin – which is the body’s largest sensory organ – as a primary means of contact. A “helper” or administrator of the therapy, uses a variety of touches, textures, warmth/coolness, etc. on a “receiver” with the goal of promoting a response from the receiver. Each touch stimulus is accompanied by a short and specially composed piece of music that is designed to match the touch in mood.

According to co-founder Hilary Wainer, BMus, Med, DipMTh, Dip Psychotherapy, Tacpac was created in 1995 in response to the total lack of tactile/music resources available for the type of children she was working with at the time – children with severe learning disabilities, Down Syndrome, autism, and a host of other communication difficulties.

One day, she was with a colleague, who was a movement specialist and was holding a session in the hall of the school where they were both working. Her tape recorder broke and she needed music so she ran into Wainer’s room and asked her to wheel the old piano into the hall and improvise some music so that her lesson could progress.

“The result was very exciting,” Wainer writes on the website. “The improvised music, with the feely sensations we gave to the children, was a hit. To cut a long story short, we repeated the session for many weeks. The other staff became enthusiastic, and asked us to make it into something more permanent, easy to use and transport, so they could do this too.”

They eventually created Tacpac, which is now used to help people of all ages and abilities, from birth to the elderly with dementia.

Wainer’s background is in teaching and music therapy. She has spent years working alongside children with a wide range of learning disabilities and has a special interest in working with people who have profound and multiple learning difficulties. She is also an accredited music therapy supervisor with the British Association of Music Therapists and has worked as a facilitator in schools and mental health settings.

I found nothing New Age in either the therapy, its origins, or the people involved in bringing this to the public.

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