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What Is Music Therapy?

January 25, 2009

December 2008

As a Music Therapist I am frequently asked: What is music therapy?

Although, definitions have been given by many professionals and students over the past 50 years, I like to answer that music therapy is the process of therapy (= help) using music (= tool) to address individual psychological and physical needs.

Luciana, putting her Music Therapy skills to use.

Luciana, putting her Music Therapy skills to use.

Such states of need are broadly defined. They could encompass but are not limited to the following: A young child who was born with a congenital problem such as cerebral palsy, autism, or Down Syndrome; a woman or a man suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to traumatic episodes while in their own country or a person living in a refugee camp far from home; an individual in need of emotional support due to a diagnosis of AIDS; an impoverished community member; a victim of torture called a “torture survivor” or a terminally ill patent in a hospice. The list goes on.

Thinking globally, there are many reasons why music therapy is suited to engage clients, no matter what cultural background, into musical interventions. Music, by itself, is a universal language. I love to say this because through my work experience I have clients from all around the world including Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East. Thus far, all of my clients have respond to music, even when spoken language was a “barrier.”


Regardless of where the client comes, from or what their psychological or physical problems are, music interventions are created based on the individual’s needs. Goals are then developed, and music is applied using a variety of rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, etc.

In today’s world many individuals are facing severe feelings of disempowerment, helplessness, disbelief, rage, shame and humiliation. But they are also receiving the emotional stabilization and social support to help them reclaim their education, sense of worth and dignity. Human relationships can be improved and built on by alternative therapies that combine all of the arts: drama, visual art, dance, media and music.

Luciana Da Fonseca
Music Therapy Consultant

Brazilian born Luciana currently works as the Mental Health Supervisor
and Music Therapist for the International Rescue Committee in Arizona.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. drtombibey permalink
    November 1, 2009 12:51 pm

    I am interested in songs that heal and posted about this subject on my blog today. Hope you will drop by.

    drtombibey.wordpress.com

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