The Music in Music Therapy-Psychodynamic Music Therapy in Europe: Clinical Theoretical and Research Approaches

By Ahonen, Heidi | Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Music in Music Therapy-Psychodynamic Music Therapy in Europe: Clinical Theoretical and Research Approaches


Ahonen, Heidi, Canadian Journal of Music Therapy


The Music in Music Therapy-Psychodynamic Music Therapy in Europe: Clinical, Theoretical and Research Approaches, edited by Jos De Backer and Julie Sutton. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2014. ISBN 978-1-84905353-2 (hbk); 978-0-85700-712-4 (ebk).

The Music in Music Therapy-Psychodynamic Music Therapy in Europe: Clinical, Theoretical and Research Approaches offers the reader a wide range of perspectives on European approaches to psychodynamic music therapy practice. Editors Jos De Backer and Julie Sutton focus on the role of music within music therapy, addressing how vital musicianship is to the identity of music therapists.

My reaction when 1 field the book in my hand was that it would be about psychodynamic "music in therapy" approaches. The first part of the title, The Music in Music Therapy, refers to what Bruscia (1998) describes as music in therapy practices during which music is used as a tool. The second part, Psychodynamic Music Therapy in Europe, refers to psychodynamic music therapy. However, after reading the entire book, I find that it is not just about psychodynamic "music in music therapy" practices; some of the articles describe music therapy processes that use music as therapy, or music psychotherapy processes that are not psychodynamic in nature. For this reason, I think the title of the book does not give a clear indication of the contents of the book. A more accurate title would have been "Music and Music Therapy: Music Psychotherapy in Europe." This way the title would have included both music in therapy and music as therapy practices and all music psychotherapy theories that are represented in the book. Music psychotherapy refers to all psychotherapeutic approaches; psychodynamic music therapy refers only to psychodynamic approaches.

In my opinion, the pronounced strength of the book is clearly the insightful and noteworthy clinical case material. It was captivating to read the case studies and to see how the different authors reflected upon them. However, as is typical with article collation books, the weakness of this book is the lack of cohesion between different chapters. It is as if it contains different authors' conference presentations and papers instead of invited articles on carefully pre-selected topics. The individual chapters are all remarkable, thought-provoking, and very well written, but they do not seem linked with each other, and the synthesis and integration across chapters is missing. Also confusing is the fact that some of the articles clearly do not present psychodynamic perspectives.

After an introductory chapter, this book is organized into three parts: Part 1 (Chapters 2-4) introduces the context for music therapy in Europe; Part 2 (Chapters 5-18) introduces clinical and research perspectives; and Part 3 (Chapters 19-21) deals with continuing professional development. The following is a brief summary of the content.

Part 1: The Context for Music Therapy in Europe

As a context for music therapy in Europe, the book presents three articles. In Chapter 2, the editors along with Monika Nocker-Ribaupierre provide a historical perspective of the European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC). This is very interesting read and brings up many good memories. After all, I represented Finland in the EMTC from 1993 to 2001 before I moved to Canada.

In Chapter 3, De Backer and Sutton first introduce theoretical perspectives of music therapy. I think it would have made more sense if they had only included an overview of psychodynamic music therapy. Instead, they also introduce developmental, behavioural, Gestalt, cognitive, systemic, humanistic, eclectic, and psychosocial theories as examples of the main music therapy approaches in Europe. Instead of focusing on the title of the book, "psychodynamic music therapy," they also introduce Creative Music Therapy, physiological music therapy, behavioural music therapy, medical music therapy, and musical healing models (pp. …

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