How To Tell the Difference Between the Helping Music Professions

by Kimberly on June 2, 2009 · 4 comments

It seems that the connection between music and healing is popping up a lot these days. Check out this recent story on MSNBC my friend (and fellow music therapist) Ginny Driscoll shared with me. It’s a pretty good story, probably one of the more well-written ones I’ve seen, on how music is being used as a complementary treatment in medicine. I only have one complaint: that the writer did not do all his homework. There is no mention of music therapy in the article, nor of how it has been used in hospitals since WWII.

UPDATE: I just posted this entry, when I saw this CNN story MollyBlock shared on Twitter: “Music a Mega-vitamin for the Brain.” Guess it proves my point that these stories are popping up everywhere!

It’s hard to blame the writer, though. It can get confusing, as there are lots of professions (and professionals) other than music therapists who use music in treatment. For example, there are:

  • Harp therapists (mentioned in the MSNBC article)Life Goes On
  • Music practitioners
  • Music (or sound) healers
  • Clinical musicians
  • Music thanatology

Most of these other disciplines use music in medical treatment centers, and often in conjunction with the life/death transition.

(Our national organization, the American Music Therapy Association, put together a very nice description of the similarities and differences between these professions. You can download it here. Thank you Janice Harris for sharing this with me.)

As a profession, music therapy is the largest of these, requires the most training, and our MT-BC credential is accredited by the NCCA/NOCA. We also are trained to work with a wide variety of clinical populations, including adults and children with:

  • Developmental disabilities (e.g. autism, learning disorders, ADHD, etc.)
  • Trauma and attachment disorders
  • Medical conditions (e.g. premature babies, cancer patients)
  • Alzheimer’s and other dementias
  • Neurologic insults (e.g. strokes, Parkinson’s, TBIs)
  • Aphasias and other speech disorders
  • Mental health disorders (e.g. substance abuse)
  • End-of-life needs, including the life/death transition

But there is a place for all of us, the music therapists, the helping music professionals, and the doctors studying the effect of music on various ailments. And we have a shared interest, we are all working towards the same goal: using music to help others.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sound healing April 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Healing with sounds was practiced since ages which comprised of sounds of flute, bowls, chanting of mantras etc. But Sound therapy is more precise in the field of natural therapies.

Michael Latham October 31, 2015 at 8:12 am

Life is so fulfilling when we are able to live in the world and simultaneously make a positive difference in the lives of those we meet. Music is an intimate exchange that is beneficial for both the performer and the listener. Music has been highly valued as one of the most preferred natural methods of stress relief and for promoting all-round well-being. Specially formulated sound therapy can also guide one to deeper levels of relaxation. Through the power of sound the body can be guided to a state of self-healing to help cope with regular daily challenges.

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