Our Story

In 1994 music therapist, Craig Christiansen met Kari Gaskins, behavior therapist. Craig’s creativity needed a touch of Kari’s organizational skills. The two decided to work together to conduct music therapy sessions with Kari’s in-home ABA clients. They video taped their sessions in order to learn how to better help the children. In 1998, they took what they did to a larger scale, seeing more clients and contracting to schools and other agencies – thus the beginning of Creative Exchange Music Therapy. In 2004 they opened their clinic in Westchester in order to better serve families. Through their clinic and contractual services thousands of clients over the years have enjoyed and benefitted from music therapy services through Creative Exchange. Today, Craig and Kari have 3 children of their own who have also been a part of the music therapy through participation in groups as positive peer models.

Here’s what some clients are saying about us!

“Autism is referred to as a puzzle. Since our son’s diagnosis we have been putting the pieces together. Craig and Kari Christiansen have put a big piece of our puzzle together. Since our son has started music therapy he has had such a remarkable improvement.  He transitions so much better. He converses more and he is always talking about music class. He seems more confident and proud of himself and his accomplishments. We have already met with school officials to let them know of all of his accomplishments with music therapy so that they can reevaluate him for a more inclusive environment.”

Parent of Creative Exchange student

“Mr. Christiansen is a talented, creative dedicated professional. He is able to use multiple learning channels to engage our students. He has developed very positive relationships with our students.”

School principal at Lutherbrook Educational Center

“Music therapy has helped my daughter in various aspects. They incorporate speech, sensory motor, motor planning exercises and academics into her music sessions. She has learned much faster in music therapy than any of her other therapies. This is due to the musical stimulation, her relationship with Craig and Kari and because she is having so much fun. They are also eager to work with her other therapists in order to maximize the therapeutic benefit and promote skill generalization”

Parent of Creative Exchange student

“I have had the opportunity to observe music therapy groups and have found the professionals diagnostic and clinical skills to be extremely well developed. I have been impressed with their ability to gather and integrate large amounts of information, listen with a thoughtful ear, carefully formulate their own impressions and opinions, and present data in an objective, clear, and forthright manner. They thrive on hard work and are not afraid of difficult issues.”

Program director at a Kaleidescope Inc.

With nearly 20 years of experience contracting to schools, hospitals, special education cooperatives, and special recreation programs, we have developed various music based curricula for a variety of different settings.  we have also created tools to aid in communication, and adaptive instruments to help the physically challenged.  We are skilled at using age appropriate musical interventions to maximize client participation and overall benefit.

We greatly value the following organizations we have contracted with:

A.E.R.O. Special Education Cooperative

Advocate Hospice

Alden nursing homes

Apex Hospice

Argo Community High School



Charleston Transitional Facility

Chicago Park District

Chicago Public Schools

Child and Family Connections

Children’s Memorial Hospital

Christopher House

Easter Seals

Eisenhower Cooperative

Enger School

H.A.V.E. Dreams

Hephzibah Children’s Home

Jewish Children and Family Services


Larkin Center

Little Friends Inc.

Loyola Hospital

Magnolia Care

Mercy Home for Boys and Girls

Methodist Youth Services

Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization (NSSEO)

Oak Lawn Park District


Progressive Careers and Housing

Rush Therapeutic Day School

School Association for Special Education in DuPage (SASED)

Shore Services

UCP Seguin