Past and Present Outlook of Music Therapy

By Brianna Larsen

“I began my music therapy internship 35 years ago this June.  I remember walking into the career of music therapy not knowing what to expect but convinced that I would make a difference. I spent much of my time explaining what music therapy was…my own mother was very proud of the fact that I “-sing to those people–isn’t that nice>”  Most people I talked to agreed that music was indeed powerful but the details were lost on them.  Research indicating the power of music was evident but not readily available to the everyday person.  I had high hopes for the field of music therapy and have not been disappointed.  Music therapy has proven itself to be a very valuable, research driven tool whose potential to me seems limitless.  There are so many applications for music therapy at this time that a music therapist could conceivably impact any spectrum of life.” – Diane Larsen

These words came from my mother who is also a music therapist.  As you read, people have been asking for many, many years the golden question of “What is music therapy?”  Even though we are still all asked that question today, the times I love best is when I am walking with instruments and a guitar on my back and someone says “Ooooh, music therapy! How awesome!”  Those are very sweet moments.  To me, this is success in advocacy for our profession.  I believe we can attribute a lot of this success to the news and social media. There are so many music therapists on twitter and fantastic people spreading their experience and wisdom with their own personal blogs.  Now there are local and national stories involving music therapy on the news all the time.  The word is getting out.  Our hard work in advocacy is a continuous endeavor, but a worthwhile one.

My vision for music therapy in ten years is: to grow in the number of positive reactions due to continued advocacy, to keep expanding research, and for the profession to master the skill of social media so that the knowledge of music therapy would be universal and people will demand it be part of their treatment.

We have grown so much as a profession in these last 35 years.  I am excited to see what the next 35 have in store for us all.  And who knows, maybe even my (future) child will pursue a music therapy career.



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