Thinking about Therapy

The definition of therapy, according to Dictionary.com, is: 1. the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process; 2. a curative power or quality; 3. psychotherapy; 4. any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

As a music therapist, I feel that my particular brand of therapy is that of rehabilitating rather than curative. I do not think that music therapy can cure disease or completely ameliorate the effect of a syndrome or disorder. I do, however, believe that music therapy can address issues and provide different avenues for gaining skills than other forms of therapeutic intervention.

Out of the four definitions above, I feel that #1 and #4 are the most relevant definitions for music therapists. I am not a psychotherapist. I do not practice psycho-dynamic music therapy techniques and do not feel that psycho-analytical music therapy is the philosophical fit for me. I feel that I can be a music therapist who is able to complete sessions that focus on skill development without being a psycho-dynamic therapist.

I offer my clients the opportunities to use music to learn things, to practice skills, to identify issues or difficulties in their lives.

At this time, I am working with an adolescent with a developmental disability (Intellectual Disability - mild) and several psychiatric diagnoses as well (PTSD and others). He is engaged in a songwriting/composition/performance small group. He entered the session with a song that had deep personal meaning for him. He will not share the specific situation that the song reminds him of, but he is engaging in the process of writing lyrics, singing the song, playing instruments, and interacting with the other group members. He looks forward to the sessions and reports to his teacher about the process that occurs in the music therapy room.

A psychodynamic music therapist may feel that one of the goals of the music therapy session should be for him to share the situation. I do not feel that way. My thoughts on the matter are that he will share the event or situation when he is ready. It may not happen during a music therapy session, but it may happen when he is performing or listening to the end product at a later date. I think it is more important that he is engaged in the process rather than whether he actually shares the situation with me.

There you go. Thoughts on therapy.

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