Monday, April 26, 2010

Psych: Current Trends in MT

Twenty-one percent of music therapy professionals belonging to the AMTA report working with patients in a psychiatric setting (Silverman, 2007). In three weeks, I will be an intern working among these numbers. And because more music therapists work specifically with psychiatric patients than any other single population, it is quite possible that you MT students who are reading this may eventually find yourself in this setting as well.

Recently, the results of a survey of professional AMTA members working with this population was published in the Journal of Music Therapy. This survey covered topics such as most common goals and objectives, most frequently used interventions, and other information regarding MT sessions.

Most commonly reported objectives for clients in the psychiatric population included socialization, communication, self-esteem, coping skills, stress reduction/management, group cohesiveness, relaxation, and decision-making. These objectives were ones that over sixty percent of the professionals surveyed had reported using in the past week.

(A long list of possible objectives surveyed in this study further include impulse control, leisure skills, emotional expression, depression, problem solving, self image, insight, reality orientation, anger management, aggressive behavior, relationships, substance abuse, music listening, symptom management, music skills, mental health knowledge, physical exercise, family issues, spirituality, life changes, community reintegration, community resources, daily living skills, music knowledge, medication management, and other.)

Interventions used by music therapists to address these included improvisation, song-writing, drum circles, singalongs, music games, lyric analysis, music and movement, music and art, music and dance, and music assisted relaxation.

This survey indicated that, if you work in this setting, you will most likely work in a long-term facility that is run by the state or a private practice. You will probably work with groups that are 5 to 8 in number, for an average of 31-45 minutes once per week. The reason? Group sessions are apparently more cost-effective than one on one sessions.

In the future, I will be posting intervention ideas for this population. There is much more to be said regarding the psychiatric setting, but I will tackle that information when possible.

Silverman, M. Evaluating Current Trends in Psychiatric Music Therapy: A Descriptive Analysis. Journal of Music Therapy, 44 (4). 2007; 388-414.

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