Synthesis Sunday: Starting Into Music Therapy and Trauma: International perspectives

I have started my journey through a new to me book, Music, Music Therapy and Trauma: International Perspectives, edited by Julie P. Sutton, and published in 2002 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. I'm thinking this may be a long series of posts as I was not able to get through the first chapter without having to stop and process - I only made it through 4 pages, there was that much to think about. Perhaps it will get easier as I progress through the book, but I'm not sure if that will happen. There is lots of food for thought in these pages.

This text was written as part of an Award program that included a conference and correspondence between music therapists who work in different areas of the world. There are authors from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Bosnia, and Israel. Each author offers a clinical perspective on music therapy treatment with those who have trauma histories. I haven't heard of many of these authors, so I am very happy to delve into yet another perspective that I have not explored at this time.

Every time I start a publication from Jessica Kingsley, I am abruptly reminded that much of my education has been so very United States-centric. I love their publications because the books bring the international communities of therapists to me. There is SO much more to music therapy than what I've been exposed to in my education and clinical practice. Textbooks like these enrich my perspective in many different ways. A Jessica Kingsley text is a glimpse into the lives of music therapists around the world, and I love them, but I think that's part of why they take me so long to decipher - I have so many different things to interpret and to digest. 

I started with the Introduction which described the way the book came into being. After that, it was time to start Chapter One. Julie Sutton wrote the first Chapter, entitled "Trauma: Trauma in Context." I got through four pages of this chapter before I had to stop and do some synthesis.

The most important part of what I read in this chapter (so far), was an emphasis that there is a significant difference between single event trauma responses and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As the text is 16 years old, I made a quick trip over to the DSM V to see what types of things have changed in diagnosing PTSD over the years. 

Being exposed to a traumatic event is not automatically something that leads to PTSD. Many people are exposed to traumatic events that do not subsequently lead to the development of PTSD, but there are people who, when exposed to the same traumatic events, do develop the disorder.
"Trauma does not occur due to the external factor of a single event. Trauma is enmeshed in an internal process of an attempt to assimilate how the event has irrevocable affected the individual" (p. 24).
We are learning more and more about neurology and brain development as technology allows us to glimpse inside the brain when things are happening. We can see where activation occurs. We can see where there is damage. We can see how things change when we apply music to the experience. With the gains in technology, we are able to tell why music seems to be an appropriate treatment intervention for persons with PTSD - we can see specific brain processes activate when music is present. We can see other brain centers start to light up when a person is actively engaged in musicking - producing music of their own through singing, playing an instrument, or moving to an external stimulus.

I look forward to reading more about this topic as I digest this in bits and pieces. I'm going to warn you that this may be a long trip - I can only read so much before I become a bit overwhelmed by the experiences described - so, I'll meander through this book as I am able. 

Thanks for being here for the journey. 


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