FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to questions about Music Therapy in general and the EMTC in particular

Music therapy can be described in general as a profession in which a qualified music therapist uses music and musical activities (receptive and/or active) to meet the therapeutic needs of an individual client within the relationships that develop through shared musical experiences between therapist and client (Bonde, 2019; Wigram et al. 2002). 

 

There is no single definition of music therapy. The theories behind and practices of music therapy can vary greatly from country to country and from client population to client population. These variations have to do with cultural influences as well as with traditions of music therapy and background philosophies and theories used by the therapists (Bonde, 2019; Ridder et al., 2015). 

 

The profession of music therapy interfaces with many other disciplines. Not only disciplines within the field of music such as music psychology and music education are relevant here. Other therapeutic fields such as occupational therapy and psychotherapy interface with music therapy as do psychology in general, medicine, special education and anthropology (Bonde, 2019). 

 

The process of therapy is influenced greatly by the client population with whom the therapist is working. Music therapists may work with various client groups, for example persons with rehabilitative needs, with chronic disabilities or illnesses, with persons striving to achieve better quality of life.  Not only the needs of the clients, which can be very different, must be considered. It is also very important to consider their potentials (Bonde, 2019). 

 

The process of music therapy is also influenced by the approach used and the institutional setting in which it takes place. These settings are often, but not only, located within the health system. Music therapists can also work in schools (e.g. for children with special needs) or in the social system of a country.  Many music therapists working in institutions work in interdisciplinary teams. In these institutions, different aspects of client needs can be addressed by different professionals through their expertise. Ideally, goals are jointly formulated with each profession, also the music therapist, contributing to the well-being of the client (Bonde, 2019; Twyford & Watson, 2008).

 

One person who has greatly influenced the definition of music therapy is Kenneth Bruscia. In his newer definition of music therapy from 2013, we find the description of the therapist to be of a person who, in collaboration with the client, seeks to help the client optimize his well-being instead of being the person who primarily promotes change. This definition is as follows:

Music therapy is a reflexive process wherein the therapist helps the client to optimize the client’s health, using music experiences and the relationships formed through them as the impetus for change. As defined here, music therapy is the professional practice component of the discipline, which informs and is informed by theory and research. (Bruscia, 2013, p. 138)

 

The World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) has also developed a definition of music therapy that is very broadly stated:

Music therapy is the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing. Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts. 

(WFMT, 2011)

Author: Melanie Voigt

References:

Bonde, L.O. (2019). Definitions of Music Therapy. In: S. L. Jacobsen, I.N. Pedersen & L.O. Bonde (Eds.). A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy (2nd ed.) (Pp. 29-39). London: Jessica Kingsley. 

Bruscia, K. (2013). Defining Music Therapy (3rd Edition). Gilsum, N.H.: Barcelona Publishers.

Ridder, H.M., Lerner, A., & Suivini, F. (2015). The role of the EMTC for development and recognition of the music therapy profession. Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, Special Issue 7(1). 13-22.

Twyford, K. & Watson, T. (Eds.). (2008). Integrated Team Working. Music Therapy as part of Transdisciplinary and Collaborative Approaches. London: Jessica Kingsley.

WFMT (World Federation of Music Therapy) (2008-2017). What is Music Therapy? Verfügbar unter: https://wfmt.info/wfmt-new-home/about-wfmt/ [14.09.2020] .

Wigram, T., Pedersen, I. N. & Bonde, L. O. (Eds.). (2002). A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy. Theory, Clinical Practice, Research and Training,  London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Music therapy and music education are two related, but different fields of work. 

One of the largest differences between the two can be seen in the goals that are pursued in their applications. The aims of music education are to promote musical knowledge and skills. The basic aim of music therapy is to use music in working within a musical and therapeutic relationship  to meet non-musical, therapeutic needs of the client. One factor determining whether music therapy or music education is used depends, then, on the goals that are to be reached.  However, this is not an “either/or” situation. We find studies in which the use of and participation in music education activities show positive effects in non-musical skills such as cognition and social behaviour, even though these extra-musical goals are not the reason that music education is used. On the other hand, a music therapist may use pedagogical techniques to achieve therapeutic goals. An example here could be working in music therapy with a group of clients in order to prepare for a common musical performance. The therapeutic goals of this intervention could be the promotion of self-esteem and self-identity (Bonde, 2019; Holck, 2019; Oerter & Bruhn, 2005; Bruhn, 2005). 

Whereas different factors play a role in determining whether music therapy or music education is used (e.g. the institutional framework and the clientele to be worked with, the purpose of the institution and the goals set for the clients and the qualification of the professionals), the differentiation cannot be made due to only one of these factors. Rather, we must see music therapy and music education as complementary phenomena on a continuum. This becomes very evident when music therapy is used in a context of special education (Bonde, 2019; Bruhn, 2005; Plahl & Koch-Temming, 2005). 

Author: Melanie Voigt

References:

Bonde, L.O. (2019). Definitions of Music Therapy. In: S. L. Jacobsen, I.N. Pedersen & L.O. Bonde (Eds.). A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy (2nd Ed.) (Pp. 29-39). London: Jessica Kingsley

Bruhn, H. (2005) Musik und Therapie. In R. Oerter & T. Stoffe (Hrsg.). Enzyklopädie der Psychologie. Spezielle Musikpsychologie. Musikpsychologie 2. (S. 631) Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Holck, U. (2019). Music Therapy for Adolescents and Adults with Developmental Disabilities. In: S. L. Jacobsen, I.N. Pedersen & L.O. Bonde (Eds.). A Comprehensive Guide to Music Therapy (2nd Ed.) (S. 272-282). London: Jessica Kingsley.

Oerter, R. & Bruhn, H. (2005). Musikpsychologie in Erziehung und Unterricht. In: R. Oerter & T. Stoffe (Hrsg.). Enzyklopädie der Psychologie. Spezielle Musikpsychologie. Musikpsychologie 2. (P. 555-624). Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Plahl, C., & Koch-Temming, H. (2005): Musiktherapie mit Kindern – Grundlagen – Methoden – Praxisfelder, Bern: Verlag Hans Huber.

Ansdell (2013) suggests that we view the field of music and health as a continuum between the applications and roles of music in everyday life and those of music in ‘specialist life’ (i.e., music therapy). A key to the definition of music therapy is that it takes place in a musical relationship between a music therapist and client(s) (Bruscia, 2014). Listening to music at home is thus not defined as music therapy because it is not performed together with a music therapist. However, many people find music listening therapeutic, and music listening is commonly used in everyday life by individuals to regulate emotions, energy levels and states of stress, as a help to concentrate or as a motivator for work or movement (DeNora, 2016; Skånland, 2011, 2013). Music listening can also be used as an aid to sleep or manage mental and physical pain (Skånland, 2020). Ruud (2013) has thus described music listening at home as a musical ‘medicine chest’. 

While most people are competent music listeners in the sense that they know how different music effects them, particularly individuals prone to depression may listen to music in destructive ways, thus ending up feeling worse (Stewart et al., 2019). In such cases, a music therapist could be helpful in guiding the person and helping them to differentiate between engagement in music that reinforces well-being and music engagement that relates to measures of ill-health (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014).

Author: Marie Strand Skånland,
Head of Research and Associate Professor
Ansgar University College

References:

Ansdell, G. (2013). Foreword: To music’s health. In Musical life stories. Narratives on health musicking (Vol. 6, pp. 3–12). NMH-publikasjoner.

Bruscia, K. E. (2014). Defining music therapy (3rd ed). Barcelona Publishers.

DeNora, T. (2016). Music asylums: Wellbeing through music in everyday life. Routledge Taylor & Francis group.

McFerran, K. S., & Saarikallio, S. (2014). Depending on music to feel better: Being conscious of responsibility when appropriating the power of music. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 41(1), 89–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2013.11.007

Ruud, E. (2013). Can music serve as a “cultural immunogen”? An explorative study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being, 8(1), 20597. https://doi.org/10.3402/qhw.v8i0.20597

Skånland, M. S. (2011). Use of Mp3-Players as a Coping Resource. Music and Arts in Action, 3(2), 15–33.

Skånland, M. S. (2013). A young woman’s narrative on the role of mobile music in coping with everyday life. In Musical life stories: Narratives on health musicking (Vol. 6, pp. 59–74). NMH-publikasjoner.

Skånland, M. S. (2020). “Music is something to cling to; a lifeline” – Music listening in managing life with chronic pain and anxiety. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy, Online First, 1–16.

Stewart, J., Garrido, S., Hense, C., & McFerran, K. (2019). Music Use for Mood Regulation: Self-Awareness and Conscious Listening Choices in Young People With Tendencies to Depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1199. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01199

A key to the definition of music therapy is that it takes place in a musical relationship between a music therapist and client(s) (Bruscia, 2014). Simply put, then, listening to music and making music for wellbeing differs from music therapy as a professional practice because of the absence of a music therapist. Music making can still be experienced as therapeutic, as it can be linked to e.g., emotional expression, aesthetic experiences, empowerment, and purpose. Indeed, many individuals has experienced a state of ‘flow’ when making music, which is described by positive psychology as the optimal state of being (Csikszentmihalyi et al., 2014). As Ansdell (2013) suggests, it makes sense to view the field of music and health as a continuum between the applications and roles of music in everyday life and those of music in ‘specialist life’ (i.e., music therapy).

Author:

Marie Strand Skånland,
Head of Research and Associate Professor
Ansgar University College

References:

Ansdell, G. (2013). Foreword: To music’s health. In: Bonde, L.O., Ruud, E., Skånland, M.S. & Trondalen, G. (Eds.), Musical life stories. Narratives on health musicking (Vol. 6, pp. 3–12). NMH-publikasjoner.

Bruscia, K. E. (2014). Defining music therapy (3rd ed). Barcelona Publishers.

Csikszentmihalyi M., Abuhamdeh S., Nakamura J. (2014) Flow. In: Csikszentmihalyi, M. (Ed.), Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-9088-8_15

Bonde, L.O., Ruud, E., Skånland, M.S. & Trondalen, G. (Eds.) (2013). Musical life stories: Narratives on health musicking (Vol. 6). NMH-publikasjoner.

The EMTC is a confederation of professional music therapy associations (i.e. associations of qualified, practising music therapists) in Europe. This means membership is open to associations or organisation, but not to individuals. If you want to join the EMTC community as an individual, the way to do it is to join a music therapy association in your country that is an EMTC member association. In 2022 membership includes  51 music therapy member associations representing 7329 European music therapists in 32 European countries. You can find a list of all EMTC member associations here: emtc-eu.com/member-associations.

Alternatively, click on a country here for information about all the associations there, and for contact details of the country representative, who will be able to help you with any questions you might have.

No, the EMTC does not have jurisdiction over national music therapy associations. However, the EMTC strives to provide a framework of orientation for the profession. It’s mission statement makes this very clear:

 

  • The EMTC is a confederation of professional music therapy associations, working actively to promote the further development of professional practice in Europe, and to foster exchange and collaboration between member countries. 
  • The overall purpose of the EMTC is to nurture mutual respect, understanding and exchange between music therapists in Europe. 

https://www.emtc-eu.com/about 

 

By gathering research, formulating guidelines for specific areas (e.g. online work during the Covid-pandemic, Continuing Professional Development, Minimum Standards of training, Supervision), and other activities, it aims to support music therapists in the member countries, encouraging them to develop further and to be engaged in contributing to the development of the profession in Europe. In this way, it also acknowledges the work of music therapists and their professional associations at the national level. The EMTC also promotes the attitude of being inclusive and acknowledges with this attitude the fact that music therapy has many facets that can be used to support clients. 

Author: Melanie Voigt