Music therapy through the screen with children with autism: Reflections on the differences between in-person and online improvisation


  • Ferdinando M. Suvini Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy
  • Agostino Longo Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy
  • Marco Giusti  Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy



COVID-19, online, improvisational music therapy (IMT), autism, early childhood development


Ferdinando Suvini, Agostino Longo and Marco Giusti have been working together many years and are collaborating in the Florence Music Therapy Training Course and in the First Specialization Training Course on Music Therapy and Autism (2022). This interview, in which Marco interviews Ferdinando and Agostino, addresses different subject areas in the field of music therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to discuss the need to modify intervention techniques when transitioning from in-person to online work. Starting from some reflections on the literature about online Improvisational Music Therapy (IMT), both pre-COVID and during the pandemic, we discuss whether IMT could be a feasible method for online work with children and young people with autism. Special attention is given to the treatment guidelines for working with children with autism. In order to better clarify some specific themes, some clinical examples of children and young people with autism are included. The aim of this interview is to illustrate and explore different intervention methods involved in the transition from in-person to online music therapy, with a specific group of patients. The clinical examples show that it is possible to maintain the principles presented in the treatment guidelines for IMT with children with autism, even if online work demands adaptations and modifications to the proposed techniques. The main purpose of the reflections set forth is to explore and understand how IMT changes when moving from face-to-face work to online.

Author Biographies

Ferdinando M. Suvini, Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy

Ferdinando M. Suvini, MA Music, MA Music Therapy, MA Clinical Psychology. Ferdinando has worked with leading organisations (Teatro alla Scala, Toscanini Orchestra) and taught at the Conservatory in Milan, Cagliari, Sassari. He currently works as a music therapist work at the Health Services in Tuscany, he is the Head of the Florence Training Course, and he is teaching at the Conservatory L’ Aquila, Ferrara, University of Pisa and University LUCA, Leuven. He has presented widely at international conferences and published articles in journals and magazines. He has served as the Chair of AIM (2002 – 2016) and EMTC Vice President (2004 – 2016). []

Agostino Longo, Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy

Agostino Longo is a music therapist, and teaches music therapy and clinical improvisation techniques at the School of Dynamic Music Therapy in Florence and at the Specialization Training Course in music therapy and autism spectrum disorders (Florence). He works in Siena and in the Tuscan territory (Italy) as part of a multidisciplinary team including psychotherapists and other health professionals. His current research interests include music therapy with autism, psychosis, behavioral and emotional disturbances, intellectual disability, and blindness. Agostino is also a piano and keyboards teacher, and he plays professionally in different musical contexts. []

Marco Giusti , Florence Music Therapy Training Course, Italy

Marco Giusti works privately as child and adolescent psychotherapist (Tavistock model) and as music therapist, especially with intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and affective disorders. He teaches developmental psychology at the School of Dynamic Music Therapy in Florence. []