Brief Guide to Music TherapyPresentation Transcript
Music Therapy A brief guide
What is Music Therapy?
There are different approaches to the use of music in therapy. Depending on the needs of the client and the orientation of the therapist, different aspects of the work may be emphasised. Fundamental to all approaches, however, is the development of a relationship between the client and therapist. Music-making forms the basis for communication in this relationship.
As a general rule both client and therapist take an active part in the sessions by playing, singing and listening. The therapist does not teach the client to sing or play an instrument. Rather, clients are encouraged to use accessible percussion and other instruments and their own voices to explore the world of sound and to create a musical language of their own. By responding musically, the therapist is able to support and encourage this process.
The music played covers a wide range of styles in order to complement the individual needs of each client. Much of the music is improvised, thus enhancing the individual nature of each relationship. Through whatever form the therapy takes, the therapist aims to facilitate positive changes in behaviour and emotional well-being. He or she also aims to help the client to develop an increased sense of self-awareness, and thereby to enhance his or her quality of life. The process may take place in individual or group music therapy sessions.
from Association of Professional Music Therapists website www.apmt.org
primacy of therapeutic relationship.
based on mother-infant relationship, the first musical relationship (Daniel Stern).
significant relationships may be acted out in client-therapist relationship.
Freud - founding father of psychotherapy.
Jung – appreciated the importance of the arts in our wellbeing.
Winnicott – understood the importance of play, seeing psychotherapy as a sophisticated form of playing.
Bowlby – Attachment theory, Secure Base.
Developmental Psychology – understanding the level at which the person is functioning.
Neurology – understanding the effect music has on the brain.
Physiology – understanding the effect music has on the body.
Different levels of work
All these occur within the therapeutic relationship
psychological physical developmental social spiritual
Where do Music Therapists work?
NHS – Mental Health and Learning Disability services
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Brain Injury/neurological disorders
within multidisciplinary teams
Case Study: James
Mental Health In-patient.
23 years old.
Reasons for referral:
auditory hallucination, experienced as “Friendly” or “Bad”.
difficulty expressing emotions.
difficulty forming relationships, especially since his mother had committed suicide (when he was fourteen).
Assessment Period Six week assessment. Each session lasted forty five minutes. James initially apprehensive – not sure what he should do. I played simple chords on piano, James played phrases above. Further sessions offered, with a view to long term work
Emerging theme of Opposites: explored through various methods Improvisation at the piano. Structured improvisation on other instruments. Sandplay work.
Exploring recorded music together.
I have published a paper based on this case study, called “Parallel Journeys: how a Music Therapist can travel with his client.” This is now available on a new, free, online journal. Go to:
A Case Study
Music Therapy work with an autistic boy
The Therapy Room
Introduction to “J”
Autistic and severe learning disabilities
11 years old
No verbal communication
Variety of vocalisations
Taps and flicks objects constantly
The Early Sessions
Brought by speech therapist
Found it hard to stay in room, becoming distressed
Worked in corridor, gradually making contact
Moved into room
After six sessions able to stay alone
Theme: Progress Developing relationship creating safe place Joint play able to show distress as well as happiness Physical contact musical contact Emotional contact
Theme: Distance important to give J space - let him initiate contact Physical distance emotional distance Room large enough sometimes J doesn’t want to for J to retreat be really close and intimate J sits on work surface I stay at piano I allow him to be more “autistic” I continue to respond to him musically, enough to let him know I’m still there
Theme: Contact emotional physical musical (feeds into and fed by both) Contact can be with Me instruments aspects of himself affectionate “non-autistic”/ autistic flicking sign of relationship need for reassurance checking environment genuine warmth difficult life stage need to feel safe (adolescence) J needs safe, consistent relationship and environment in which he can confront and express confusing emotions and developments