Music therapy is based on the theory that music can help provide a channel for expression and emotional release. It is a goal-based therapy in which a trained professional will help the client achieve certain targets of significance. The relationship between music therapist and client is of central importance.
Music therapy can be traced back to scholar Robert Burton and his work, The Anatomy of Melancholy. In it, he describes the benefits of music and dancing for treating psychiatric conditions.
During the 1950s, practitioners such as Paul Nordoff and Juliette Alvin developed the approach to address physical and emotional problems. It has since become a state registered profession in the UK and in 1982 was recognised as a Profession Allied to Medicine.
The approach belongs to the Expressive school. Its practitioners believe that people can heal emotional problems by expressing themselves through creative arts such as dance, drama and art.
Therapists may encourage the client to use instruments as well as their own voice to communicate their feelings – improvisation is an important feature.
How can Music Therapy help?
It is used to treat both children and adults and is also effective at treating learning disabilities, physical problems and emotional issues. The approach is also useful for individuals who have difficulty in expressing repressed feelings with practitioners working to improve their clients’ social skills and self-awareness.