Brief; Explanation of the Conceptual Framework for Music Therapy
*as developed by Kerry L. Byers (1999)

    This study advances a model of music therapy that conceptualizes music and the therapeutic relationship as being of equal importance to the process of music therapy. Specifically, the model suggests that music therapy is the process of developing a therapeutic relationship through music. Through “music” and the “relationship” a response is both elicited and developed, resulting in non-music-based outcomes.

    In affecting the individual, the music therapist specifically targets one or more aspects of the individual’s body, mind or spirit. Thus, a therapist may work solely to affect the physical self by working to maintain the gait of a person with Parkinson’s disease. Or, a therapist may work holistically, with the intent of affecting the whole being rather than one aspect of that person. Note that the purpose of this theory, at this point, is not to evaluate the worthiness of the various approaches to doing music therapy, but rather to find a structure that is common to all methods.

    This model conceptualizes two approaches to providing music therapy service, that of science and that of art. These approaches are contained within each session to varying degrees, depending upon the therapist’s training and philosophical approach, and upon the client’s needs, abilities and limitations.

    The science approach looks at the functional use of music to effect change. It is a product based approach that works well in the areas of skill development, rehabilitation and behavioural management. Science based work is supported by research into the question of how music effects us psychologically, physiologically and neurologically.

    The art approach is process based. It considers the act of music creation as being its primary focus, and works well in dealing with emotional issues, in providing spiritual support, and in providing for self-affirmation and development.  This approach also takes into consideration the art of weaving together  the therapist’s skills and knowledge, the client’s needs, abilities and limitations, and the music within the presentation of the session. Thus, the science approach informs the music therapy program while the art approach sustains its presentation.

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