F.I.M. Federazione Italiana Musicoterapeuti

Musictherapy: a view towards the future

From the seventies up today, musictherapy, in Italy, made a long way. The interest for this discipline is constantly increasing. This interest, as it happens for all the new things, has seen and is still seeing valid initiatives near speculations causing damn to students, operators, users, families and to all those who approach to the musictherapy.
How is possible to get out of this?
How can a young make choices?
How can the parents do to understand whom they are addressing to?
It’s necessary to individuate some points of reference. It could seem strange for the reader, to be aware that the overwhelming majority of those who teach musictherapy, actually, improbably did or is doing activities of musictherapy.
The things went, go and will continue to go like this.
For some teacher the presupposition to have a degree in medicine, psychology, pedagogy, or others, to be keen for music or amateur musicians, was enough to feel authorized to teach musictherapy. We saw and we’re still seeing all kinds of tricks.
How are the things nowadays? It seems that the most influential depositaries of this discipline have to be foreigners. The one who comes from the other side of the Alpes, even better who comes from the other side of the Ocean, is a valid teacher in musictherapy. In our country musictherapy is younger than in other countries. To be younger does not mean to be less valid. Now, works born and deep-rooted in the culture of our country, begin to be heard not only in our country. Before setting out to verify on which bases the musictherapy is founded, it’s opportune to clarify that there are two distinct modalities:
- Active musictherapy: to make music;
- Receptive musictherapy: to give the listening of musical pieces with particular precautions.

The choice between receptive or active musictherapy depends on the aims we set.
In this contest we treat of “to make music”, that is active musictherapy.
The theoretical foundations of this discipline are mainly developed on two sides:
- Psychoanalytic-psychodynamic;
- Humanistic.

The most influential depositaries about Psychoanalytic-psychodynamic approach come from abroad. We can see in our country the presence of the Argentine psychiatric, R. Benenzon, the English musicians L. Bunt, N. Hartley, T. Wigram, the Belgic J. De Backer, the American teachers as C. Maranto, K. Bruscia, B. Wheeler, the teachers of Nordoff-Robbins group from New York etc..
On the Humanistic side we can see Italian presences: G. Cremaschi Trovesi with the co-therapeutist S. Colpani, M. Scardovelli, C. Sini’s cultural contribution.
We can talk about musictherapy clarifying some starting points:
- what’s the use?
- who can it be useful for?

These are important and legitimate questions. Both the questions can be answered by music in itself, the same music that is present in all the populations that populated and still populate the Earth since the mists of time. So we wonder how, why and when the music can do someone good. The answers are inside the theoretical contents on which the different ways to practice musictherapy, are founded. As we said above, there are the theoretical contents deep-rooted on epistemology of music (humanistic model), and those based on psychoanalysis and on psychology (psychoanalytic-psychodynamic model). The history demonstrates the each country, each civilization has its own way to express with music. In the light of this observation we have to consider social and cultural aspects of our country. Each person, child, young, adult who lives in Italy and who needs the benefits of musictherapy, depends on scholastic and socio-sanitary services defined by Italian laws. The law 104 brought a change in the way to look to the disability. This law considers the disability as a social reality, even a resource. Disable children are inserted in the public school, grow and live in contact with all the other children. In our classes all children are welcomed and followed. We know that there are a lot of difficulties, that are due to scholastic insertions and integrations, but we know also that, since 1974, year of opening of the mental hospitals and of beginning of scholastic insertions, the society overcame and is still overcoming a lot of resistances towards disable persons.
We are not allowed to decide if a child is suitable or not for musictherapy because, whenever a musictherapeutist, expert in musical pedagogy as well, would enter in a school with a project to favour the scholastic insertion, he has to face all kinds of difficulties. In the Italian context a professional can work with children, young, adults in individual interventions and/or in group, in public or private structures. The interventions on childhood regard also the world of school. The precocious interventions make in relations with the world of medicine. And so the professional gets ready to interact at the level of medical – social – educative èquipe.
The countries, where the other, above-mentioned, foreign teachers come from, are differently organized as regards disability.
After years and years of study, work and comparison we feel the necessity to look to the term “musictherapy” in a clear way. From this necessity derives the compilation of a synoptic table (“syn”, together, “optic”, to look), that is a comparison between principles and theoretical aspects on which psychoanalytic- psychodynamic and humanistic approaches are founded.
Inside these models we can find further specializations related with mostly individual experiences (particular methods). We individuated common voices to compile concise answers, disposed in different columns. In this way it’s possible to place in light the diversities useful for a basic clearness. Who is this clearness useful for? The answer is not obvious. The clearness is indispensable to realize where you are, what you are doing, why you are working in a way rather than in an other. The clearness is useful to the professionals, to the users, to the users’ families, to the professionals of the èquipe.

The reading of the synoptic table says a lot of things. To be able to look throughout a comparison in the contemporaneity is an opportunity to understand better how to make choices. The synoptic table clarifies how is different to work with childhood, rather than with adults or with psychiatric patients. It shows that there aren’t only psychiatric patients, but also a lot of other kinds of patients who music can do them good. “It’s not that all the musictherapeutists have to give an epistemological battle, for Heaven’s sake, but this has to be the aspect that, according to me, has to be with the experience of musictherapy, fighting at level of summit, we say comparison between the knowledge, and showing the foundation and the justification of what musictherapy does, knows and wants in the experience we do in our world.” (Carlo Sini, Milan, May 2001 Meeting “Body, Voice, Word: Expression of the Emotions”).


The compilation of this table has been made thanks to the collaboration of the Directive of F.I.M..
Particular thanks to the Dr. Jos De Backer who read, verified and integrated the text of his competence.

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