|Brief History of Music Therapy| |Music Therapy in Korea From the 1990's up to Present| |Education| |Theoretical/Philosophical Traditions and Research Focus in Korea| |Music Therapy Associations in Korea|
Throughout the Korean history, music has played an important role in the lives of Korean people. Music has been used as a means of self-expression and enjoyment in social gatherings as well as a traditional healing tool for shamanistic rituals and therapeutic meditations (YoungKaMuDo).
The idea of music therapy was introduced in Korea around the 1950's by some psychiatrists though there was little further progress until sometime in the 1980's. From the early 1980's, psychiatrists, musicians, social workers, teachers in special education became interested in the therapeutic use of music. In 1983, a group of psychiatrists, who were interested in the use of creative arts in therapy work, founded the Korean Association for Clinical Arts. Since its founding, seminars and workshops focusing on music, art, dance and psychodrama have been held regularly. During the mid 1980's, psychiatrists, social workers, teachers in special education and musicians began to use music in their practice for therapeutic purposes. Interest in music therapy began to grow among those professionals at first. While a few of them went to study music therapy in the U.S or Europe, a few self-taught music therapists continued working in private practice or in small institutions. From the late 1980's and early 1990's, a few qualified music therapists, who were trained either in the U.S or Europe, began to facilitate music therapy workshops, seminars and lectures on a regular basis every year.
By the 1990's, music therapy gradually became better recognized and was put into the spotlight by the media and the general public's attention. More and more people came forward to learn about music therapy and showed their enthusiasm about the fact that music can help people. From the early 1990's and until recently, more and more people have gone to abroad to study music therapy and some of these have returned. Currently, there are approximately 15 qualified music therapists who were trained abroad, now working at various fields such as psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centers, special schools and private practice in Korea. In addition to that, we have now home grown-music therapists as well. Those qualified music therapists have had their fair share of introducing and setting up the practice in an institution where there was none before. Setting up a practice is never an easy task. Music therapists not only have to deal with skeptical and defensive professionals in related fields, but also have to face social and economic upheavals (there was an economic collapse a few years ago in Korea). We do not have a secure, well-established welfare system and our national health insurance does not cover for alternative and creative therapies. Therefore, most clients for music therapy are privately funded. Many psychiatric hospitals in Korea have some form of creative arts therapy program, especially music therapy, but social workers and nurses run most of these programs. However, gradually, institutions are opening up towards music therapy profession more readily than ever before. Each year, institutions employ more and more music therapists and professionals in related fields are now aware of the growing body of music therapy profession.
In 1997 a graduate school of SookMyung Women's University started the first music therapy-training course in Korea. Overwhelming numbers of candidates applied for this course each semester and it became a popular course to take among music students and others. There are now 5 universities running Music Therapy training courses in Korea. There are some concerns on the shortage of qualified music therapy teaching staff, on-site clinical supervisors, and student selection procedure, etc. However, this will require some time, as we do not have much experience in music therapy education so far.
Most music therapists who were trained in the U.S apply the behavioral modification tradition. Therefore, one can say that the majority of music therapy population is inclined to the behavioral modification approach. However, there are some music therapists, who were trained in the psychodynamic, or humanistic approach like myself. Therefore, these three different theoretical and philosophical traditions are co-existing in Korea. We are also examining our own tradition and philosophical stance. Music therapists are actively integrating traditional musical elements and instruments into clinical practice as well. As music therapy profession is relatively young in Korea, the foci of research are mainly dependent on individual's choice and inclination.
There have been several music therapy associations in Korea. Today, there are two major associations each contributing to the development of music therapy in Korea. One day, I hope that those associations merge into one to assist the further development of music therapy in Korea. These are the web address of two major associations in Korea:
Kim, Jinah (2002). Music Therapy in the Republic of Korea. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country/monthkorea_december2002