For over 35 years, Kardon Institute for Arts Therapy has helped individuals with special needs through music, dance and art therapy in the Greater Philadelphia Area.


In-House Program

The cornerstone of our programming, the In-House Program serves about 200 individuals per week who come to Kardon Institute’s Northeast Philadelphia headquarters for music, dance/movement, or art therapy. Clients are seen at least once per week for sessions anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour in length.

Creative arts therapy at Kardon Institute is comprised of three disciplines: music, art, and dance/movement. Creative arts therapists are credentialed through their respective professional associations. They hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in their discipline and have been trained in counseling, psychology and human behavior studies. Creative arts therapists use the arts to achieve non-arts related goals. A client may become proficient in a musical instrument or a painting technique through working with a creative arts therapist. However, the therapist’s goals for the client will be related to their well-being: improving self-esteem, developing coping skills, overcoming trauma, and forming relationships.

The arts are particularly well-suited as a method of therapy because they do not require verbal communication. A client may struggle to talk about physical abuse that they have suffered, but those memories can be easier to act out through dance and movement. Clients who are unable to speak due to developmental disabilities can express their frustration, anger, or happiness by the way they beat a drum or draw a picture.

Kardon Institute is the sole provider of music therapy and art therapy through the City of Philadelphia’s Community Behavioral Health program (CBH), which uses state Medicaid funding to provide mental health services to low-income individuals in Philadelphia County.

School-Based Program

Kardon Institute has partnered with ten Philadelphia School District and charter schools to work with children in a variety of special classrooms, including Autism Support, Multiple Disabilities, and Emotional Support classes. Students receive group or one-on-one music and art therapy, as appropriate, once per week during the course of the regular school day. The School Based Program provides exposure to the arts that students may not otherwise have, as well as the support of a trained therapist that sets goals and monitors progress toward those goals. Teachers have given us overwhelmingly positive feedback about the impact this program has on their students in the areas of attentiveness, participation, and behavior.

This program is offered at no cost to the participating schools or families. For more information about bringing this program to your school, contact Amy Smith at

Computer Music

This program provides physically challenged clients with an opportunity to use music technology for self-expression and skill development.

Computers dedicated to use with adaptive equipment and software, along with gesture recognition and other adaptive technology, enable therapists and students to develop musical relationships.

Regardless of developmental levels, the technology promotes  musical interaction and skill building.

The technology is centered around the use of switches, essentially customized buttons pressed in any way possible to provide control input to different kinds of devices. They can be positioned on specialized universal mounts that put them near any body part that a person can control.

This program is available at Kardon’s main headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia.

Here is a video of Jim performing an original piece from the Computer Music Lab at a spring 2010 recital:

Kardon Chorale

This choral ensemble has been together since June 2000 and was created to provide a forum for adults and teens to come together and sing. Making music is the key element which draws these singers to rehearsals every week. The group includes parents and siblings, friends and neighbors – anyone from the community who seeks an opportunity to sing alongside these talented individuals is welcome to audition. Beyond the music, the chorale provides an opportunity to develop social relationships. The singers create a sense of community where every voice deserves a place to be heard. That experience is extended in performances for varied audiences inside and outside of the special needs community.

Please listen to the Chorale perform “Be a Candle of Hope” from their December 2009 recital:

Be a Candle of Hope

Please watch and listen as the Chorale performs “Don’t Stop Believin” from their June 2010 80′s Dance Party recital:

The Chorale posts videos on their YouTube page:

Contract Services

Kardon Institute partners with schools and community organizations through the Philadelphia area. We offer creative arts therapy and education on a contractual basis to individuals and groups through agencies serving people with special needs (and other populations) who have limited access to arts therapy and cultural and recreational activities.

School and other groups may also come to Kardon Institute headquarters for sessions.

Organizations with whom we partner include:

  • Bancroft Neural Health
  • Camp Dreamcatcher
  • Center School (Abington)
  • Central  Bucks School District
  • Child Guidance Resource Center (summer camps)
  • The Community Conservatory, Doylestown
  • DEC Training Centers
  • Elwyn Institute (Davidson School)
  • Githens Center
  • Growth Horizons of Bucks County
  • Moss Rehabilitation Center
  • Northwestern Human Services
  • Settlement Music School
  • Widener Memorial School

For further information about programs for your organization, fees and scheduling contact Mark Bottos, Assistant Director, at 215-637-2077 or at

Early Intervention

This program, available to early intervention centers on a contract services basis, concentrates on the development of language skills, socialization skills, and gross and fine motor coordination for children ages 2-5 with special needs.

Therapy is provided in a group setting that may also include parents. The capabilities of each child, no matter how limited, are brought into the mutual realm of musical relationship with the parent and therapist. Music has demonstrated success with this population in facilitating socialization, self-expression and language development.

Family Music and Movement Circles for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

This program, offered occasionally based on demand, provides music and movement therapy for children and their family members or caregivers.

Groups meet for eight consecutive Saturdays at our Northeast Philadelphia studios. Music Therapy and Dance/Movement Therapy incorporate the universal language of non-verbal expression, helping children with disorders of relating and communicating to build bridges to others.

Goals for parents and children include:

  • Providing parents, caregivers and siblings with increased knowledge about sensory needs and using movement and music methods in the home.
  • Increasing social, language, and communication skills
  • Increasing non-verbal interaction
  • Promoting support among parents

Light refreshments are served to give parents or caregivers and children the opportunity to informally network with each other and Kardon staff.