Image via WikipediaI think a lot about power in the music therapy relationship, to the point where I've even presented on the topic.
So I was thrilled to find an article in the British Journal of Music Therapy by Randi Rolvsjord called "Whose Power of Music? A Discussion on Music and Power-Relations in Music Therapy" .
She offers a thought-provoking perspective I hadn't even thought to consider.
Well, I've probably considered it, but right now I can't recall when.
I've quoted her article rather liberally below, but the basic question I think she intended for me to ask myself when I finished reading the article was this:
Are we taking away our clients' power when we attribute their progress to the "power of the music" or to the "power of our interventions"?
Just in case I'm not getting it right, I'll let Randi Rolvsjord say it in her own words:
In a contextual approach, the therapeutic outcome is primarily related to the client's ability to use the therapeutic context to make important changes in his or her life. With the therapist's help, the client uses the space provided in therapy to activate or mobilize resources for change (Bohart 2000: 130). In a contextual model, the specific "ingredients" (techniques and procedures) are not seen as the main source of change in the therapeutic process.She goes on to address music therapy more specifically:
A contextual approach impels us to shift our attention away from the therapist and the perceived inherent capacities of music, focusing instead on how clients make use of music and music therapy in their efforts towards health and quality of life - and perhaps even towards music and musical experiences and activities. This does not require us to stop considering music as a powerful resource that can be used therapeutically: rather, it requires us to acknowledge the need for a client to make use of it, or relate to it. It also suggests that the client's own use of music is probably more important than the therapist's use of music, impelling us to consider how we can better nurture the client's own resources for health-related musicking.She notes:
When music therapy "works", it is primarily because clients are able to access music as a health resource. To support this process, it is necessary to hand back the "power of music" to our clients and enable them to use their musicality and musical competence, their musics, and their musicking to promote health and quality of life.And she repeats:
With a contextual approach to therapy, the focus of therapeutic effectiveness is shifted away from the expert-therapist implementation of effective interventions, and instead toward the client-therapist collaboration concerned with access to music, with enablement and empowerment. I have argued elsewhere (Rolvsjord 2004) that such a process of empowerment implies focus upon the nurturing and development of strengths in a mutual and collaborative relationship.
I have to admit I don't know a blessed thing about the "contextual approach to therapy", but it sounds interesting, and I believe I'll have to go do some searching to find out more.
Anyone else out there have any opinions to register about this form of power within the music therapy relationship?