What Is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is a creative path to healing that uses music at its centre.
Healing can look different for different people. Throughout the course of our lives, we experience woundedness and weakness, which can occur individually, communally or societally. We face obstacles that make our lives more difficult and less full. Healing can be the experience of becoming stronger, or it can be about learning to live well in weakness. It can be about healing wounds, or embracing beauty in the face of hardship. Healing can also be simply about finding ways to enjoy or celebrating life in ways that can be hard to access day-to-day.
Music therapy is a creative path. There are many paths to healing, and this is but one. Music can appeal to people's creativity in ways that words often cannot: It can bypass verbal pathways at both sensory and emotional levels, and it can often connect people with each other's experiences and values in ways that words often cannot.
Music therapy is centred around music. Music both grounds us to the here-and-now and connects us to the transcendent. The rhythmic and acoustic properties of music can connect us with our senses -- particularly sound and touch. Movement to music can help us to fully inhabit our bodies for moments at a time. Music can also connect us to the transcendent -- to each other, to our deepest selves. As we heal, we learn to notice and appreciate beauty. In turn, we become more whole. Music is an accessible and approachable path to beauty for many, as it has been for me.
Not all music therapy is psychotherapy, but the music therapy that I offer is.
WHAT IS COUNSELLING?
Counselling is often referred to as “talk therapy.” It involves talking with a trained person to help you better understand and navigate your life in ways that are more fulfilling for you.
Not all counselling is psychotherapy, but the counselling that I offer is.
WHAT IS PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Psychotherapy involves helping people to do in-depth work to improve their mental health and well-being; in other words, how you understand and express yourself in relation to your thoughts, emotions, sensations, actions, relationships, identity, society, and overall life.
In Ontario, a Registered Psychotherapist is someone who is a member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. Other registered health professionals in Ontario who are licensed to practice psychotherapy are members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, the College of Nurses of Ontario, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, or the College of Psychologists of Ontario.
The forms of psychotherapy that I offer are music therapy, counselling, or a combination of the two.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A SESSION?
I work multi-modally, which means that I will offer you a variety of ways to process things, including music therapy and/or counselling.
Music therapy practices can include music improvisation, song-writing, playing live and recorded music, and incorporating other creative arts. We can use piano, guitar, hand drums, small percussion instruments or singing to improvise, play, or compose pieces that are meaningful to you. We can listen to and talk about music videos or recordings that you choose. You can use pastels, markers, and pencil crayons to create visual work; and you can write prose or poetry.
My counselling approach is based on two models: Primarily narrative therapy, and secondarily DBT. See “About Alejandra Lindan” for more information about these counselling styles.
If you thrive with talking as your primary way of processing, we'll use a lot of verbal counselling and bring in music or other arts to enhance our conversations. If verbal processing isn't really your thing, we'll use a lot of live music, art, and poetry to explore what matters, and we'll bring in words only as they're helpful. If you flourish in both worlds, we'll move freely between them as creativity leads us.
I’m just interested in counselling, not music therapy. Is that ok?
Absolutely. Some people come to see me for “just counselling,” other people come see me for “mostly music therapy,” and others come for both. If you’re interested in “just one and not the other,” that’s just fine. It’s totally up to you: whichever modality(ies) you’re interested in.
Do I need to have a musical background to benefit from music therapy?
Not at all. Some people who come to me have never touched an instrument in their lives, and they want a therapeutic space where they play freely without worrying about how it sounds. Other people come to me with a lot of musical experience under their belts, because they want a therapeutic space where they can draw on these musical skills. Still others want to use music therapy to develop their musical skills to some degree, while still focusing more on a creative process than on a musical product.
If I come for music therapy, do I have to sing or play an instrument?
Only if you choose to! Some people feel comfortable singing or playing various instruments together with me or on their own; others prefer other forms of creative work, listed under "What happens in a session?". Music therapy is all about doing the creative work that is most freeing for you.
Alejandra Lindan MMT, RP, MTA
Registered Psychotherapist #001976 | Music Therapist Accredited #0439