Review of Books on Music Therapy

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Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice thaut An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice, by William B. Davis, Kate E. Gfeller, & Michael H. Thaut. 2nd edition. Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill, 1999. 370 p. ISBN 0-697-38860-3.

A Scientific Model of Music in Therapy and Medicine, by Michael H. Thaut. San Antonio: Institute for Music Research Press, 2000. 52 p. ISBN 0-9648803-1-8.

Sixty-eight colleges and universities in the United States currently offer accredited music therapy degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Additionally, there is growing interest in the therapeutic application of music from healthcare and education professionals outside the field of music therapy. Growth in these two areas of higher education and training have resulted in the need for an introductory level textbook that disseminates accurate and comprehensive information about the music therapy profession and the therapeutic application of music. Furthermore, models for further scientific-based research in music therapy are also essential to the growth of the discipline. William B. Davis, Kate E. Gfeller, and Michael H. Thaut have accomplished the first endeavor—a college-level textbook—through their publication, An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice, now in its second edition. Accomplishing the second task, Michael H. Thaut presents a research-based monograph intended to guide scientific inquiry in the field of music therapy in A Scientific Model of Music in Therapy and Medicine.

An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice provides an overview of music therapy that is grounded in a thorough review of research and documentation in the areas of music, psychology, counseling, medicine, rehabilitation, special education, biology, neurology, and physiology. The authors synthesize this large body of research, providing the reader with a broad understanding of the music therapy profession, the clinical application of music for specific populations, and current professional issues in the field. Each section of the book is dedicated to providing the reader with clear and straightforward information on the music therapy profession.

Part one of the text gives an overview of the profession by defining and describing the work of a credentialed therapist, summarizing the historical development of the profession, and exploring the relationship between music and human behavior. The historical portion of the book provides an intriguing glimpse into the use of music in healing by tracing its historical use from early civilizations through the Renaissance. This historical journey continues as the authors describe the historical development of the music therapy profession in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Photographs and biographical information on the efforts of prominent historical figures bring the history of the profession to life. Building on this historical foundation, the authors discuss music as a lifelong activity and how music can influence human behavior. Thus, they further construct the fundamental bases for music as a therapeutic modality.

The largest section of the book, part two, is dedicated to an overview of the populations most frequently served by music therapists. Information contained in this section is designed for the undergraduate student, with each chapter providing definitions and general information on a specified disability, followed by applications of music to achieve desired clinical outcomes. Communicating and working collaboratively as a member of an interdisciplinary treatment team requires that the music therapist have extensive knowledge regarding the conditions that s/he will treat. Training as a music therapist, therefore, requires that the student is knowledgeable about diagnostic criteria, etiology, and characteristic needs of persons with specific disabilities. This prerequisite knowledge allows for subsequent studies on how music can be used to facilitate the acquisition or rehabilitation of an identified skill. Grounded in theory and research, the authors provide an overview of music therapy treatment strategies that are appropriate for each specified disability.

The final section of the book outlines phases of the music therapy treatment process and discusses the value and role of research in music therapy practice. As with any therapeutic modality, music therapists are accountable for the treatment that they provide to patients and clients. Systematic and sound clinical programming that is based on objective assessment of patient needs and ongoing documentation of clinical outcomes is the cornerstone of music therapy practice. Further substantiating the therapy process is the use of research in the field of music therapy to develop best practice methods for specific clinical populations. Valuing research and how it serves to shape and support the clinicians' work is an important concept for students to learn in the early stages of their academic studies.

The sequential nature of information provided in this publication is essential, and it lays the foundation for meaningful discussions and increased understanding about the therapeutic application of music. The book is a compelling and substantial resource for educators. The authors are respected researchers, educators, and clinicians in the field of music therapy who have provided an outstanding and much needed resource through this publication. An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice continues to be a solid choice for those who are seeking an introductory text in the field of music therapy.

Whereas An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice offers a solid introductory discourse on the profession, Michael H. Thaut's A Scientific Model of Music in Therapy and Medicine is an exemplar for continued research in the field. The four-step epistemological paradigm, the Rational-Scientific Mediating Model (R-SMM), provides a framework and structure for investigating and understanding the physiological, neurological, and psychological bases of music therapy. The monograph is divided into four primary sections: 1) a rationale for the R-SMM followed by an outline of the four-step model; 2) a reading list of research studies that illustrate model building for each step of the R-SMM; 3) an overview of the Transformational Design Model (TDF), a system for translating the scientific model into functional clinical practice; and 4) a response to the monograph by Alicia Clair, professor of music therapy at the University of Kansas.

The book begins with compelling discussions regarding the current status of research and theory in the music therapy profession. Thaut acknowledges that music therapy has undoubtedly demonstrated success in the clinical application of music. He explains, however, that future research must uncover a more thorough understanding of the "translation process" of music into therapy, namely identifying the mechanisms that underlie how music functions to bring about specific clinical change. Thaut precedes his presentation of the R-SMM with insights that he has drawn from research paradigms used in experimental aesthetics that routinely examine the physiological and psychological foundations of music perception and performance. He describes how perceptual processes in music function to change or mediate nonmusical responses; thus laying the foundation for his four-step R-SMM model.

Viewing music as a mediating stimulus in therapy aids the conceptualization of how music can engage behavior and facilitate behavioral change. Additionally, it allows the profession to develop theoretical models based on psychology and physiology of musical responses. Thaut proposes that scientific inquiry and the development of theory in the areas of affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor behavior must follow a four-step progression: 1) musical response models that focus on basic music perception and performance; 2) nonmusical parallel models where musical and nonmusical behaviors are studied in the same or parallel contexts; 3) mediating models, where the effects of a musical response on nonmusical behavior is studied; and 4) clinical models that draw on research from mediating models to systematically test the outcomes of music therapy treatment. Thaut advocates that research conducted in this manner results in scientifically validated models that are effective and accepted in the therapeutic community. To substantiate the R-SMM model, the author includes a list of published studies based on the system. Furthermore, he cites examples of empirical investigations that represent each stage of model building.

Following this thorough description of the R-SMM, Thaut presents a method to guide the translation of research findings from the R-SMM into functional clinical applications. The Transformational Design Model (TDM), developed at Colorado State University, is used to teach music therapy students and clinicians the basic mechanisms for designing functional therapeutic applications of music that are grounded in research. The TDM is a systematic process that ensures clinical applications of music are well founded and directly target functional therapeutic outcomes. The five basic steps of the TDM are: 1) diagnostic and functional assessment of the patient; 2) development of therapeutic goals and objectives; 3) design of functional, nonmusical therapeutic exercises and stimuli; 4) translation of step 3 into functional, therapeutic music experiences; and 5) transfer of therapeutic learning to real-world applications.

The formulation of the R-SMM emerged from years of research on the neuroscience of rhythm perception and rhythmic synchronization mechanisms. Thaut's work and that of his colleagues has resulted in a more thorough understanding of how the brain synchronizes rhythmic movement to external rhythm, as well as increased knowledge concerning the neural networks involved in rhythmic synchronization. Subsequently, these outcomes have led to clinical studies in the area of neurologic rehabilitation, including the use of rhythmic entrainment to facilitate and improve gait training.

The purposes of presenting the R-SMM, as stated by Thaut, are two-fold: first, to provide a framework for conducting research in music therapy that progresses in a logical and scientific sequence; and second, to support the growth of validated clinical practice in music therapy through the formulation of clinical methods that are grounded in research. Thaut undoubtedly accomplishes these goals with passionate arguments for a line of scientific research that is first and foremost anchored in psychological and physiological models of musical behavior. Celebrating fifty years as an organized profession in the year 2000, the field of music therapy is still considered young. In order to continue growth and maturation as a profession, the challenge to gain greater scientific understanding regarding how music functions to bring about desired clinical outcomes must continue to be embraced and pursued with fervor. As the music therapy profession continues its forward motion as a scientifically based therapeutic modality, the R-SMM developed by Michael Thaut will prove beneficial in guiding the efforts of current and future researchers. It is in the spirit of scientific discovery and translation of research outcomes into best practice methods that A Scientific Model of Music in Therapy and Medicine is highly recommended to researchers, educators, clinicians, and students.


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Last modified on Sunday, 07/10/2018

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