One of the great things about music therapy is that everyone, absolutely everyone, can respond to music. What I love about using music as a therapeutic tool is that it allows people to connect, communicate and discover meaning outside of the framework of words. I strongly believe that music can be a powerful tool for healing and self-discovery. I have been witness to this in my own life and the lives of many others and I am excited to see how the research is demonstrating the effectiveness of the clinical use of music within the healing professions.
While I enjoy working with clients from a variety of backgrounds and age groups, I feel particularly strongly about advocating for those who are marginalised by the mental health care system and/or the experience of stigma as well as providing opportunities for personal growth for individuals who may respond better to non-verbal or creative therapies, such as music therapy.
Music therapy naturally has a profound advantage in providing connection to clients with mild and severe disabilities as well as to clients all along the autism spectrum. Such individuals are often overlooked for traditional talk therapies and the opportunities for personal growth that come with them. Music therapy offers alternative and accessible experiences that promote reciprocal communication, development of communication skills, expanding range of expression and even expanding range of movement while nurturing the individual’s potential and musicality.
Music therapy is a burgeoning profession that is internationally recognised. In South Africa we abide by the highest ethical and professional standards of our professional association (SAMTA – South African Music Therapists’ Association) as well as the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa). While many people in Cape Town or Johannesburg may not have heard of music therapy, or met a music therapist, we are a small (yet growing) group of clinicians who are working in your schools, your hospitals and your clinics with children, teens, adults, the elderly and even new-borns.
Melissa Ellse, registered music therapist, completed a Bachelor of Music (University of Cape Town) followed by a Masters in Music Therapy (cum laude, University of Pretoria). She is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA reg no AT 0001350) as well as the South African Music Therapists Association (SAMTA) and the South African National Association for Arts Therapists (SANATA).