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The Use Of Improvisational Music Therapy

1286 words - 5 pages

Giving Trauma a Voice,” as authored by Dorit Amir and published in Music Therapy Perspectives, examines one way that music therapy can achieve positive change for adult victims of child sexual abuse through the use of improvisation. It introduces some of the psychological aspects of child abuse before detailing a case study centred around a 32-year-old woman over the course of two years. The woman came to therapy in search of a solution for her social and emotional problems. The sessions were recorded by her consent and after some time it was revealed that she had been sexually abused by her father at a young age, though she previously had no memory of this. The article discusses her initial fearfulness, her traumatic epiphany, and her eventual freedom through the use of improvisational music therapy.

Dorit Amir’s article is important to music therapy as a profession for a number of reasons. Its case study is encouraging and seems to contribute to a growing collection of works in support of music therapy. The case of ‘Lisy’ seems to indicate usefulness in some cases of improvisational music therapy for adult victims of child abuse. Examples like this help to offer legitimacy to music therapy, which is crucial to the development and maintenance of the profession as a whole. Furthermore, the article is valuable in that it discusses the importance of trust between therapists and clients in cases such as the one described. Amir was unable to progress through therapy with ‘Lisy’ until the client had become more comfortable with her. This likely carries a special importance in clients with deeply emotional, deeply personal issues—especially those that deal with elements of control—but it can be applied through all forms of therapy and it is important for all therapists to take this into consideration.
The focus of this article seems to suggest that therapy for clients like ‘Lisy’ may be best if it is centred around improvisation, although the piece does make a note that different therapies may be better suited for different people. It was also useful in discussing the role that improvisation can play with anyone who struggles with a need for control. It was initially difficult for ‘Lisy’ to improvise because she liked to maintain control of situations—perhaps a learned response to the sexual abuse she faced as a child, which would have resulted in an extreme loss of control—but eventually the improvisational aspect allowed her to discover a balance between control and freedom so that she found a comfortable space in which to take risks. Particularly important in this case is the role of the therapist to guide the client from an insistent need to play “safe” music to a gradual increase in risk-taking. It is exhibited in the movement from pre-written compositions to simplistic, individual improvisation to two-handed, simply-progressing improvisation alongside the therapist to dramatic and challenging improvisation with the therapist. This...

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