Some Colleagues of mine invited me to participate at a symposium on music and health. I was very pleased for this opportunity since the group included professionals from various European countries.
Our conversation referred to the use of music to promote health and to prevent disabilities in normal people. The discussion was very rich since the participants presented their opinions supported by research and clinical practice with different population in order to improve the use of music and music therapy. We discussed also which could be required to train efficient therapist in this field.
While I was listening to other perspectives and situations in other countries, I was comparing them with the Italian situation.
I have worked with methods of psychotherapy with music and music therapy for more than 25 years. At the beginning only a few people knew this area of practice. During this long period I have put my efforts, with all my heart, to introduce theory and different clinical methods with music at the highest academic and scientific levels, such as Universities and Research Institutes, by presenting seminars and writing papers. My work has been appreciated and some colleagues of mine, faculty members, proposed me to organize a post degree school for psychologist and physician, a four years training to become psychotherapist, including music therapy and psychotherapy with music. The School of Psychotherapy and Integrated Music Therapy – SPIM was officially recognized in 2003, by the Italian Ministry of Research, Education, and University. Since this was the only proposal including methods with music, as a post degree specialization, we supposed that many students would ask for application: our school could have 20 trainees in each class which means 80 each year for the four classes. In reality this was only our optimistic perspective. By collecting people’s opinions, it has been evident that the word music therapy conveys, paradoxically, information of something not scientific and with little value for a job. In fact music therapy, as a discipline, and the music therapist, as a professional, are not officially recognized by Italian Government. No academic courses are offered. There are some trainings with a reduced amount of hours, comparing to trainings organized in other European Countries, like Norway and Denmark.
At this point of the story, after six year of hard work, seminars, free conferences, radio and TV talking shows, etc., only 40 out of 80 students are enrolled in our school. They all are enthusiast of the courses, workshops, and faculty scientific and clinical experiences offered in our school. From the inside they do not understand why other people are not interested to come. But this is the cultural reality, here, to regard with suspicion something that is unusual, also if it offers something unique and outstanding. Only few people take the risk and spend time to check the offer requiring a personal interview. By consequence, we had to take a difficult and sad decision to change the name of the school , eliminating the word music therapy. Some comments were that we needed a long time to understand that such word represented a penalization for our school!
Our programs still include psychotherapy with music, also known as BMGIM, the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music, while offering music therapy courses outside the school training.
We are optimistic and get ahead with our project to allow music therapy and psychotherapy with music to be recognized for their unique contribution for understanding and helping human beings, especially now that these disciplines and clinical interventions are supported by study and research in disciplines like neurosciences concerning music and brain. Psychological perspectives get light on self evolution and personal meaning, both based upon sensory schema, emotional experiences, and intersubjectivity, for which music offers meaningful and efficient methods and techniques. To do this it is worthwhile to limit our dream, to accept the challenge, and, taking a realistic perspective, to go on step by step with resolution and trust in what we are doing.
Perilli, Gabriella Giordanella (2009). Comparing Notes on Music Therapy Culture. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 16, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=colperilli060409