What is Music Therapy?

Music is a profoundly powerful tool for connecting us to one another, to our emotions and to a sense of meaning. Qualified music therapists operate across the globe, including the tip of Africa, Cape Town.

Music therapy is the clinical use of music interventions and music experiences to achieve therapeutic goals, promote health and realise potentials. Music therapy is focused on the process of music experiences and the relationships developed through them.  Despite the name, musical training is not required; this is because all human beings respond to basic elements of music. Music therapy can provide opportunities for communication when words are insufficient and it can assist in releasing and exploring emotions. Like other therapists, music therapists encourage, provide support for and offer guidance to their clients.

Music therapists are allied health care professionals registered with the HPCSA. Music therapists in South Africa hold a Masters degree in Music Therapy and have completed at minimum 1000 hours of supervised clinical internships at various placement sites. Music therapy techniques are highly adaptable and are suitable for use with a wide variety of clients including adults, teenagers, the elderly, children and even antenatal or end-of-life care.

What can a client expect to do in music therapy?

  • Music improvisation, using instruments and/or voice
  • Drumming
  • Music listening
  • Therapeutic singing
  • Songwriting
  • Verbal processing and reflection
  • Movement to music
  • Reminiscence-based music experiences
  • Guided Imagery and Music/music visualisation experiences
  • Creative Processes involving music (including drawing, clay and painting)

Book an appointment with Melissa Ellse (MMus, Music Therapy) by clicking here.

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Why do we ‘use’ music?

Music Therapy, Health and Self-Medication

Many of us self-medicate with music yet if asked we may not be aware that this is what we are doing. It seems we intuitively know we need music and most of us are particular about what, when and how we engage in music experiences. These six points briefly detail why we ‘use’ music, and why it is such a potent medication:

  1. Music reflects, magnifies and connects with that which is greater than me, the individual. Through music experiences, I can be connected to others, to community, to purpose, to shared values, to the spiritual and the collective unconscious.
  2. Music reflects, magnifies and connects to that which is within me. Through music experiences, I can witness and experience the complexity of my emotions and psychological states, even my thoughts. I experience myself differently.
  3. Music is a temporal form. Concrete, uninterrupted time is essentially and vitally linked to experiencing music as an art form. This means that through music experiences, I experience myself in time. This also means that through music experiences, I can experience time differently and experience myself differently in time.
  4. Linked to the above point, music has an ordering function. This means that through music experiences, I can experience myself as moving in an ordered manner through time, continuously unfolding, organised, with a beginning and an ending.
  5. Music reflects and magnifies the complexities of life, which may be too subtle and nuanced to notice or make sense of, or too difficult and complex to pay attention to.
  6. Music adds context and continuity to life. Emotions are magnified when music adds context, allowing me to deepen, release or clarify my response.

Music is powerfully transformative as a healing modality. There is no trite or simple explanation how or why, as both music and the human brain are infinitely complex phenomena. I encourage my clients to pay attention to how they respond to different kinds of music as a way to ignite interest and intuition in this area and I certainly promote self-medication with music!

 

38204344_1833578016724375_7769933706361307136_o (1)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).

Book an appointment with Melissa Ellse by clicking here.