The birth of Music Therapy in Mexico was primarily influenced by the creation of the humanistic Music Therapy model by Victor Muñoz Polit from 1983. This model is applied exclusively with psychotherapy patients, rather than psychiatric patients; this population may be of different ages and be undergoing distinct psychological disturbances.
The Humanistic Music Therapy Mexican Institute, placed in Mexico DF, has been providing training since 1995. The model of practice is a product of the conjunction of theoretical and technical foundations of humanistic psychology and music creation. Nowadays people who trained at this institute lead most of the Music Therapy activities in the whole country and in other institutions. Thus, the theoretical and methodological perspective of humanistic Music Therapy is their main influence for practice.
There are some notable individual endeavours of music therapists in Mexico. Two of them are remarkable: the first one is Esther Murow; a music therapist trained by Ken Bruscia in USA, she has been working in several fields of Music Therapy since she returned to our country; and the second is Ginger Clarksson, an American trained teacher who works for the "Universidad de las Americas" (University of the Americas). Her work is based on the GIM Method.
Music Therapy is offered as a post-degree course for psychology graduates, even though currently there is not any study program in Mexico recognized by any official education institution. The Humanistic Music Therapy Mexican Institute provides the only formal program of Music Therapy in Mexico. Since 1996 this speciality of Humanistic Music Therapy has been in existence, and it is oriented to psychotherapy professionals with humanistic specialism, musicians who want to receive training in psychotherapy and for psychologist who have psychotherapy specialization.
This Humanistic Music Therapy specialty is also taught in Querétaro (another city of the country), and it is planned to extend the training programs to cities like Leon, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Besides, the Institute offers a Certificated Training in "Aplicación de la Música en Educación" (Music Applied to Education). The Institute programs are certified by the "Asociación de Desarrollo Humano en México" (Humanistic Development Association in Mexico); institution which rules and certifies those institutions who work under humanistic psychology perspective. This Association and The Mid-Atlantic Institute offer a Guided Imagery and Music training since 1996. At the moment they have three music therapist generations in this speciality, with their graduate students working as private practitioners.
Since 1983, the Humanistic Music Therapy Mexican Institute and several other collaborators have been promoting the work of music therapy around the country by means of workshops and courses, whose main purpose is the personal participants growth, and also participation in important humanistic psychology events in Mexico. Mexican music therapists work mainly in private clinical practice, either individual or group therapy. Recently they have begun to extend their field of work to education, medicine, eating disorders, depression and work with people who have different capacities.
Humanistic music therapists require for their practice a comfortable environment: wide, well-lighted, aired, isolated and carpeted spaces. Many musical instruments are needed with sound systems, different kinds of pillows and several paper works. Their method is based essentially on phenomenology and can include verbal and non-verbal aspects of patients communication. They use a musical selection that tries to make contact with the patient experiences. In case of group work, the music therapist selects psychological topics according to the group needs, which are applied by means of different auditory and musical creation techniques.
Unfortunately, Mexico is a country of little research tradition, not only in the Music Therapy field. This fact, together with the nature of private practice within the specialty, makes it even more difficult to undertake clinical research. There are not official or private interests supporting Music Therapy research, so there are not systematic studies indispensable for the diffusion and for improving the qualification of this model.
The richness of Mexican traditional music is incorporated into music therapy approaches. This allows the music therapist to use a wide range of music and rhythms. At the same time, music is an excellent instrument for use in psychotherapy work in a country with such a huge cultural diversity. The vast and diverse musical and cultural heritage of the Mexican people makes Music Therapy a specialty with great possibility of development, no matter which social status, race, language or dialect or other regional differences. However, the little acknowledgement of Music Therapy by the official institutions of high education has prevented the further development of this specialty.
As it was mentioned before, our Music Therapy model is based on humanistic psychology, so all our work is influenced by its principles. Music, either generated by the patient or the therapist, or recorded, is used to promote contact, intensification and expression of the patient with his/her experience. According to humanistic psychology changes in ones consciousness leads to behavioural changes, therefore music is used by the Humanistic Music Therapy not only with the aim of modifying any behaviour but to propose and allow the recognition and experimentation of his/her self experiences. Music is used as an instrument to facilitate the recognition of the whole range of self experiences: feelings, emotions, images, memories, ideas and transpersonal aspects. Through its different elements, music works as a reflector of the deepest contents of the patient's psyche.
Campos, Ezequiel González (2003). Music Therapy in Mexico. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country/monthmexico_august2003