Category Archives: Introductions

Can you feel it?

There is a definite buzz in the air about music therapy!  Can you feel it?

I’m not sure how it started, I only know why – because music therapy works!  Recently, music therapy has been all over the airwaves, the news, in books and in a feature length Hollywood film.  And yet, as a recent discussion on the MUSTHP-L listserv highlighted, many music therapists continue to have to describe and defend their work on a daily basis.  Why is that?  Here are some of my thoughts as well as observations from a student in my “Introduction to Music Therapy” class from this past semester.

1.  Music is universal

The universality of music is wnquestionable.  It has existed in every known culture since the beginning of man even though, curiously, it has no “inherent survival value” like food or shelter  (Davis, Gfeller, Thaut. 2008).  This is both a blessing and a detriment to the understanding of the term, “music therapy (MT)”.  Yes, people understand the term, “music” but that has become synonymous with “entertainment” in today’s modern culture.  Hence, when people hear about MT they immediately think that it is something that is entertaining, not healing – at least in the medical sense.  As one of the class members described,

“I knew from my personal experience with music that it moved me, however I did not know how in depth music therapy really was.”

(A.B.  Used with permission)

2.  Music works with all age groups

Music therapists work with all age groups, from infants in the uterine environment to adults in the last stage of their life.  How can something that works with such a vast range of clients, work in reality?  When music therapy began as an organized profession, it initially began with a psychological focus.  Since that time, specialty areas within the field have grown and expanded tremendously.  Hence, increasingly, music therapists are choosing to work with a particular clientele, rather than attempting to work with a variety of clients, throughout the lifespan.    Some of these include:   work with premature infants (NICU-MT),  neurological rehabilitation (NMT), Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (NR-MT), Therapeutic Drumming, Music and Imagery (Bonny Method of GIM) and Community Music Therapy (CMT).

3.  Music therapists train extensively and must pass rigorous examination

Just as you wouldn’t want to see a doctor who has never attended medical school, you shouldn’t see someone who is calling themselves a music therapist without the proper training.  Sadly, at this time, there is no means of legally protecting the title “music therapist” in either Canada or the United States.  There are ways, however, to determine whether an individual has completed the requisite education and professional training.

In order to become a music therapist, individuals must first complete four years of undergraduate training in music therapy.  This is the minimal standard and many music therapists continue onto graduate level education.  They must also complete an internship of approximately six months duration (1000-1050 hours in North America).  Only then, may they apply to become a Music Therapist Accredited (MTA – Canada) or a Music Therapist – Board Certified (MT-BC, USA).  Before granting these designations, a music therapist must complete additional examinations.  In addition, those designations are only maintained by the ongoing completion of continuing education related to professional practice and skills.

Being a part of their national and/or regional association also means that a music therapist must abide by professional standards of practice and a code of professional ethics.  When a music therapist agrees to take you on as a client, you begin a professional relationship, not a casual or friendly relationship.  As such, there is specific protection of things such as:  patient-therapist confidentiality and protection from abuse in the relationship (financial, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual). By all means, check out your music therapists and ask them about their credentials.  They should be happy to share these with you!

So what can we do as music therapists to improve your understanding of music therapy amongst the general public?

1.  Maintain our memberships in national and regional music therapy associations.

2.  Making the promotion of music therapy a priority in our national and regional music therapy associations.

3.  Open up our newsletters and research to the public through use of vehicles such as YouTube, Blogs, and Creative Commons licensing instead of keeping them locked away behind “member only” walls and proprietary journals.

4.  Continue to respond to questions about the topic – “What is music therapy?” even though we are sometimes “sick” of having to describe and defend our profession.

References

Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K. E, & Thaut, M. H.  (2008).  An introduction to music therapy:  Theory and practice (3rd ed.).  Silver Spring, MD:  American Music   Therapy Association, p. 17.

How can we improve your understanding of music therapy?

Please feel free to comment below.

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Filed under Books and Resources, Clinicial Skills, Introductions, Music Therapy

Welcome to my new blogging site!

I am beginning a new journey under the banner of MusicTherapy365.  This doesn’t mean that you will get a post everyday, simply that music therapy is an aspect of my life I cannot ignore, on a daily basis.

Who Am I?

My name is John Lawrence.  I am a music therapist and educator from Canada where I have been in private practice for the past 15 years.  My professional interests include:  Music therapy (MT) with geriatric clients and persons with Alzheimer’s type dementia, Neurological Music Therapy (NMT) and the historical and developing world of MT.  As an educator, I am interested in Online learning, Web. 2.0 and 3.0, Hybrid educational environments, Open software and open platforms, and social networking communities such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

What do I expect to achieve by blogging?

I’m very glad that you asked!  As I indicated above, “I am interested in the historical and developing world of music therapy“.  I am also a lifelong learner who likes to share what I have found.  I am hoping that my blog will allow you to better connect with, and understand the world of music therapy.  I also hope that it will become a valuable resource for current and aspiring music therapists as I share technological and innovative solutions for clinical and business issues that arise from time to time.

What are my credentials?

These days, anyone can start a blog and write about anything that interests them.  That said, I do have some specific qualifications that provide justification for this new endeavour.  I have been a music therapist in private practice for the past 15 years after obtaining a Master’s of Music Therapy degree from Temple University.  I have been instructing an “Introduction to Music Therapy” course at several post-secondary institutions and have found that I relish the opportunity to share my knowledge and skills as a teacher.  I have chaired, and will be chairing, the organizing committee for the Online Conference for Music Therapy (OCMT).  If those mean nothing to you as credentials, then I will simply say – I’m a bit of a rebel from Edmonton, AB CANADA who likes to “stir things up”!

That’s it for now – stay tuned for further blog postings.  If you need to reach me in the meantime, here are some possibilities:

John Lawrence MMT, MTA
Edmonton, AB
CANADA
 
E-mail:  jlmt@telus.net
Alternative E-mail:  john.lawrence@capitalcare.net
Facebook:  John Lawrence
Twitter:  @JLisaMT
LinkedIn:  John Lawrence MMT, MTA
 
 

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Filed under Books and Resources, Business Tools, Clinicial Skills, Conferences, Introductions, Music Therapy, Organizations, Pedagogy