Top 3 Misconceptions About Music Therapy
Being a Music Therapist means addressing some common misconceptions on a regular basis. Here are the top 3 I have heard in my 10 years in music therapy.
#1 I listen to music on my own to feel better, so that’s basically music therapy, right?
While we tend to use the term “therapy” when we refer to things that help us improve our mental or emotional state, there is a definite distinction between therapy as a profession and as a pastime.
Most of us use music for ourselves for a variety of reasons (pleasure, working through emotions, or as a distraction), and that’s great! But let’s not confuse the power of the radio with the power of a therapist. Listening to your favorite song when you’re sad is a far cry from working with a trained music therapist who knows how to use music to bring about big change.
In fact, it’s why a lot of people end up wanting a real Music Therapist when they need some extra help: because they already know how awesomely effective music will be!
#2 Music Therapists are just musicians who like to help people.
While this is technically true (we are musicians and we do like to help people), it’s only half the picture.
More importantly, we are clinicians who know how to help people. And we’re trained in how to use music to do just that.
There is a distinct line between a talented musician who volunteers his/her time to bring a lot of joy (and great music) to folks in need, vs. a Board Certified Music Therapist who has been trained to use music to promote significant emotional, physical, and spiritual changes for their clients.
We are more than musicians. We are therapists.
#3 Anyone can play music for someone and call it music therapy
Along the same vein as #2, not just anyone can play music for someone and call it therapy. Even if a great musician has the best of intentions and uses his/her music to try to help elevate someone’s mood, there are dozens of considerations that only a trained Music Therapist would know.
These considerations involve not only those in the domain of counseling or behavioral/therapeutic approaches, but also involve having a thorough understanding of the impact of music on emotions, physical responses, and associations. In fact, for one who is not trained in both counseling and musicianship, a lot of damage can be done by failing to intertwine both ends of the rope into a cohesive whole.
As a whole, the field of Music Therapy is just beginning to be understood by the mainstream public. It will continue to require persistent advocacy to help the layperson understand not only what music therapy is, but also what it is not.
It is powerful.
It is progressive.
It is purposeful.
And perhaps it is for you!
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