Music therapy vs. Music therapy services

Should music therapy be called music therapy services if it is one of the many interventions offered by the clinic? Perhaps, to help other professionals understand our field a little better, let us examine the difference between the two terms.

Music therapy is a process, not merely the outcome, and that it requires time. It involves a sequence of experiences before a desired state is reached. Experiences that turn out to the beneficial or “therapeutic” does not qualify as “therapy.” For instance, going to a concert, listening to music alone or with a close friend, singing in a choir or playing an instrument can all be regarded as therapeutic to a certain extend, but they cannot be regarded as a “process” of therapy. Having a therapeutic experience with music is not equivalent to entering the process of music therapy. As such, the “process” of music therapy requires ongoing assessment, treatment and evaluation.

“Services” by nature of its definition, does not require “process.” Thus, music therapy services refer to brief encounters on a particular part of the entire music therapy process. Such services are frequently seen in music therapy workshops or seminars where the participants participate in demonstration sessions. In the music therapy “process,” a client-therapist relationship is developed through a series of committed musical experiences. A shared commitment between client and therapist in achieving a purpose is always present. However, in music therapy services, no commitment in time or relationship is required. After all, it is only a brief encounter between the therapist and client.

With the aforementioned in mind, should music therapy be called music therapy services? Well, that has to depend on what the clinic expects from the music therapist.

*Author: Tan, L. P. (2007)

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