Music Therapy, Medications and Talking Therapies....where does it fit?
Throughout my time practising as a music therapist, I have worked closely with the talking therapies. People often wonder what added benefit there is from music therapy - especially when talking therapies, (specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and medications are the evidence-based therapies at present. What do you get in music therapy that you may not get in talking therapies alone?
Many talking therapies are based at a cognitive level. This works really well for some people, but in some cases a person may not be in the right headspace to rationalise or process cognitively; or sometimes talking therapies may be a welcome opportunity to intellectualise our thinking or doing - which can impede on our capacity to make active change in our lives.
Pharmaceutical therapies, while scientifically supported in stabilising mood and chemicals in the brain, are known to be most effective with additional therapeutic support. Medications can assist treatment, however, I work from the understanding that particular experiences produce long lasting changes in the brain and body.
Through music therapy, I work with an individual from many different angles. I am aware that many of us (including myself!) cannot work at a cognitive level until the rest of our system is more 'in sync.' Music has the capacity to impact motivation, meaning, emotional regulation, physical or physiological functioning, state of arousal or sensory systems. Therefore, I may focus on these areas of need through music based experiences to better prepare our brains for processing and understanding challenges, traumas or memories - to then move towards empowering individuals to 'press play' or 'author' their future.
I'm aware that many therapists and therapies aim to cater directly to the individual - but I'd like to share how I may customise therapy according to who I'm working with.
Every session in music therapy is different - while I do work from specific structures and frameworks - everyone has a different brain and body - therefore, I adapt everything according to the unique needs and dreams of every person I work with.
I work with whatever is brought into therapy. Regardless what may have happened in a previous session, I find it really important to check in with what a person brings into the room with them - before moving on to their long term goals
Whatever is important to you is important to me (sorry for being a little cliched!). I don't write goals for you - we work together to find out what you'd like to get out of therapy - I will make some suggestions based on your personal values, but your motivation to be in therapy and life is what will take you to those goals.
What music works for you? What music doesn't work for you? What does music mean to you? What is meaningful to you? We'll use music in a way that addresses your needs.
The communities, cultures, and people we are surrounded by also play an important role in our identity. For this reason I also consider the way a person fits into the map of their communities or families and how this may impact on the therapeutic and recovery process.
We use music as a tool to make chemical changes in our brains and bodies or to establish or strengthen pathways in the brain. We use music to help us feel, connect, communicate, express ourselves, think or do. We use music as a health resource - for you to take and use in your every day life. Music is powerful. Relationships are powerful. Combine the two and you get music therapy.
Some people don't respond to music therapy and others have responded to music therapy when other treatments have not been effective. Regardless, each person needs to find what works for them - and a therapist who meets those needs.
I have the capacity to work as a primary or complementary therapist. Either way, I am aware of my boundaries and limitations and refer to other therapists or medical professionals when required.