Psychiatric Music Therapy in the Community: The Legacy of Florence Tyson

By Cadesky, Nadine Elizabeth | Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Psychiatric Music Therapy in the Community: The Legacy of Florence Tyson


Cadesky, Nadine Elizabeth, Canadian Journal of Music Therapy


Psychiatric Music Therapy in the Community: The Legacy of Florence Tyson Michael G. McGuire, Ed., (2004). Barcelona Publishers, www.barcelonapublishers.com ISBN: 1-891278-15-0

Reviewer: Nadine Elizabeth Cadesky, MMT, PhD Student (Temple University).

McGuire's text chronides the life work of Florence Tyson, who pioneered, and did ground-breaking clinical work in community-based psychiatric music therapy in the USA. This book serves as both a historical document and currendy rdevant resource. It includes many of Tyson's published and unpublished writings, presentations, and interviews, along with commentaries and essays by key colleagues, friends, and "patient-members" ("Patient-member" is one of the terms Tyson and McGuire used to refer to individuals who attended her center for therapy. Patients were valuable members of the center's community).

Editor McGuire was Tyson's friend and colleague for 25 years, and had great respect for her, calling her an "astonishing woman...an accomplished musician and printmaker, an extremely sensitive therapist, an advocate for justice and equal rights, and a person with a powerful intellect (p. 354). I find it noteworthy that McGuire is donating the proceeds of the book to a research award in her name: The Florence Tyson Fund to Study Psychotherapy at the American Music Therapy Association.

McGuire organized the writings in this anthology into seven parts based on subject matter, which meant, for instance, separating Tyson's 1981 Psychiatric Music Therapy, and placing particular chapters into different areas of the anthology. The overall sequencing and organization of parts make sense, though the material in chapter 2 and section 3 seemed easier to follow on a second read.

Part one: "The Music Therapy Relationship" outlines Tyson's clinical approach, and the results of a study of 50 of her long term patient-members, and their conscious and unconscious motivations for seeking and engaging in music therapy. The case examples bring the material to life, and both theory and clinical material prove informative. Part one prepares the reader for the extensive case material presented in Part two.

Part two shows the range and depdi of Tyson's work, and includes an excerpt written by one of Tyson's long-term patient-members, who also co-presented with Tyson, and fundraised for the center. In reading part two, the reviewer saw and felt the struggles and perspectives of dients, and the depth and complexity of therapeutic processes, Tyson's clinical expertise and therapeutic use of self. It was a fascinating experience to really sit with how Tyson classified her work and why, and how I might classify it both in terms of depth and breadth.

Part three introduces Tysons work related to the Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center, the community center she founded. It indudes writings associated with its creation, administration, and clinical approach, and an essay on the integrity of the center, by Joan Winer Brown. It also indudes McGuire's chapter on the center's annual musicales. These writings underline what Bandini, one of the authors in the anthology, called Tyson's "true legacy" (p. xvii).

Part four contains material from Tyson's 1981 book, namely, the first four chapters, which address the origins of music, music and medicine, music therapy in hospitals, and the development of the field itself.

Part five presents transcripts from two interviews that Tyson and others gave to the media. Part six features two perspectives on Tyson, written by McGuire, and Christine Stevens. McGuire's chapter focuses on Tyson the person, her vision for the center, and her role as executive ditector. Steven's chapter traces Tyson from her early role with the Musician's Emergency Fund to the creation of her Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center, while also providing interpretation of her clinical model. Part seven contains several appendices, including Tyson's eulogy to a patient-member named Estelle, a bibliography organized by subject, Tyson's Curriculum Vitae and the job description she embodied through her work at the center.

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