Byers produces a comprehensive history and analysis of the music therapy profession, followed by advancing a compelling concern pertaining to its diversity. She summarizes successfully the profession’s history, delineated by decades, with its beginnings in the 1930s and its evolution traced into the twenty-first century (ending in 2015). Decade by decade, the reader becomes a witness to the influential music therapy clinical models, training, research, philosophy, and policy changes that affected the profession. Personally, I experienced some of the events that Byers chronicled; for example, I attended a dynamic town hall meeting in 1998 where members of the two US music therapy associations in existence at the time, AAMT and NAMT, deliberated about the formation of AMTA. What was truly enthralling to me was to be informed of other, similar dynamic events in the profession worldwide. In Chapter 2, readers get an overview of the early history of music therapy as it emerged worldwide in the 1930s to 1950s. The burgeoning profession, needing to formally establish itself, focused on clinical work, with its philosophy yet unstated. Byers provides many interesting developments that occurred in the early years. For example, during the US Great Depression of the 1930s, the government developed a relief work program for musicians that funded them to play in medical hospitals and other settings. In Germany, a new model of practice referred to as anthroposophical music therapy was established. It was based on a holistic approach that included rhythmic rebalancing of the whole person. The history of music therapy in the 1960s, as recounted in Chapter 3, is captivating. In the United States, the national organization at the time (i.e., NAMT) designed a governing structure for its approximately 200 American members. A culture of research was immediately established for the purpose of demonstrating music therapy efficacy to the US government, which was funding the army’s reconditioning program. E. Thayer Gaston put his best efforts forward to substantiate music therapy to the American Psychological Association. De-institutionalism, integrating those with special needs into the community, was a movement seen worldwide, arising from several concerning factors. De-institutionalism evolved over different times in various countries and required music therapists to adapt to new ways of serving clients. Several international music therapy models of practice also arose during this time: two based in psychoanalytic theories (e.g., in the UK, Mary Priestley’s Analytical Music Therapy; in Spain, Benezon Music Therapy) and another in behaviorism (in the United States, Behavioral Music Therapy). Two main contributors to the philosophy of music therapy were the Americans E. Thayer Gaston and William Sears. Diversity, division, and growth characterized the decade of the 1970s. In the United States, while NAMT developed training guidelines and many significant professional documents, some members desired a different professional direction. As a result, the American Association for Music Therapy was founded. Competency-based learning and evaluations defined these American education training models. Efforts were made to educate related professionals in regard to the use of music therapy as a therapy, rather than a recreational treatment. In the United States, the passing of Public Law 94–142 helped increase music therapy services for schoolchildren with handicaps. Globally, new professional organizations were formed in Finland, Israel, Spain, and Sweden and new training programs were established in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, Norway, and Poland. Other developments included competency-based learning and a World Congress that met in Paris in 1974. Guided Imagery and Music, a music listening-based practice, was developed by Helen Bonny. Byers furnishes a very insightful and beautiful description of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, its creative-psychological foundations, its implementation, and its impact on incoming music therapists. Music therapy services in the 1980s, as portrayed in Chapter 5, grew beyond the established treatment services for those with intellectual disabilities and mental illness to include treating those with burns, AIDS, pain, trauma, brain injury, eating disorders, and yet still others. The need for professional accountability and preservation motivated clinicians and educators to cultivate writings in ethical issues and address burnout in the profession. Training programs worldwide were fostered in six European countries, which also included Israel. The World Federation of Music Therapy was established to promote music therapy worldwide, and several new music therapy journal publications sprang up from the United States and the UK. Philosophical approaches that emphasized emotion and music provided structure to clinical practices of music therapy. Globally, in the 1990s, music therapy was either beginning or professionally established in over 40 countries. Increasingly diverse populations were served and new research journals were generated (e.g., Australian Journal of Music Therapy and Nordic Journal of Music Therapy). Music therapy associations focused on advocacy, creating jobs, licensing, and regulation, and especially from the United States, provided clinical services that were evidence-based. Three American models, physiologically based, were constructed: Biomedical Music Therapy, Music Medicine, and Neurologic Music Therapy. The daunting topic of diversity was addressed in conference settings, and attendees came to a consensus that a single music therapy theory could not be endorsed. Some prominent music therapy writers believed the field to be too broad and complex to have a singular definition across philosophy, clinical settings, and so forth. In Chapter 7, readers learn how the boundaries of music therapy practice expanded even further in the twenty-first century. For example, the community music therapy model, as opposed to having music therapy situated in a hospital or school setting, was based on one’s engagement in music activities that enhanced connection to community. Technology was increasingly integrated into clinical work. Evidence-based practice intensified, and Cochrane reviews became the gold standard for research efforts. Training in music therapy, outside university degree programs, extended to specialized programs. Government recognition was sought with vigor, as seen in the development of the US State Recognition Operational Plan, in which the focus was on regulating music therapy practice as appropriate to the policies of each state. In Chapter 9, Byers tackles the origins, pros and cons, sources, and evidence of one case of unification that occurred in Germany despite diverse views in music therapy. She furthers the discussion of the diverse perspectives found in the profession by presenting results of interviews she carried out with 24 music therapy educators from 10 different countries. In one instance, music therapy educators relayed that a positive attitude toward diversity in our field must be established at the training level. In contrast to the stance that diversity should be accepted, Byers lays out the results and consequences of differing tolerance levels toward diversity. Byers outlines the definition and framework of what constitutes a successful profession in Chapter 11. She imparts a framework for the music therapy profession by referring to a system of professions theory in which readers are informed of how professions develop, thrive, and are maintained. Four primary threats to the music therapy profession are outlined (e.g., the field’s wide scope of practice). Byers suggests that in its pursuit to claim stronger jurisdiction over the use of music, the profession needs to take greater pains to describe in detail its process and the nature of music experienced. It needs to do this while providing greater theoretical and empirical support. Without such pains, she warns that the profession is in a very vulnerable position to others defining the profession. The reference list is astonishing. I noticed how many times while reading I thought, “I’ve got to read that paper!” Readers will certainly have a thorough knowledge of the diversity of music therapy practice, philosophy, and competing views of music therapy if they spend time with the rich reference material. Byers does not presume to possess a panacea for the threats to the profession. She does, however, in the last chapter theorize about a possibility for the future of the music therapy profession. She espouses that for the profession to not only survive, but thrive, it needs to identify and define the overlap found in the music-client-therapist relationship(s) as the basis for establishing a jurisdictional area—a jurisdiction for music therapy that will protect it from being impinged upon by other professions. This book is valuable for every music therapy clinician, educator, administrator, researcher, and music therapy student. It can be used for music therapy education programs, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. It is also useful as a reference book for clinicians wanting to be familiar with various music therapy practices, and for clinicians, educators, and administrators who wish to engage in discussions about the present-day diverse nature of the music therapy profession and its future direction. It will also be greatly informative to any follower of music therapy who is interested in the history and current state of the music therapy profession. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Music Therapy Association. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Music Therapy Perspectives – Oxford University Press
Published: Dec 6, 2017
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