• Julie Martin

You're a What Kind of Music Therapist?

"Hello, my name is Julie, and I'm an eclectic Music Therapist." Now, there is no formal approach in Music Therapy called, "Eclectic Music Therapy." No. This term comes from a breakout session I attended at one of the national conferences for Music Therapy where a group of about 10 Music Therapists had a conversation, and a support group session, about what it meant to be a Music Therapist who is passionate about Music Therapy but not about any one of the major approaches to Music Therapy. We were comfortable using multiple approaches.


Believe me, it felt so good to let go of some guilt I was feeling about 5 years into my practice over not acting "Behavioral" (my school's philosophy) enough. This experience gave me permission to be open to not just other approaches to Music Therapy, but to who I am as a Music Therapist. Over the following 20 years of my career, I learned other approaches (only to find that I seemed to have an innate understanding of them) and integrated what was most applicable to my clinical work with hospitalized children and hospice patients. I also found a way to describe the essence of my work as a Music Therapist.


(Click on picture to go to source) I have trust in what is proven. Music Therapy is described as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credential professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." This means, we do research, and have been doing research for over 60 years in Music Therapy. It means we take what has been proven to be effective and apply it in therapy. Do I follow evidence-based protocols? Yes. Do I create Music Therapy sessions according to researched sequences of steps? Yes. But, there is one very important word here...music. Everyone's experience of music is different, even when there are commonalities between clients in the flow of their Music Therapy sessions and outcomes. This has been proven over and over to me through my experiences. As a result, I trust myself to create a session that can maximize my client's responses towards their defined goals. I also trust that each client will bring their unique energy of music to the session, so that we can co-create healing. I have faith is what is possible.

I am a healing facilitator, not a healer. I believe that the potential for healing is held within each person with "healing" being defined as the "transcendence of suffering." My role is to bring a client into a musical space where we can first explore what the client feels is possible for their own healing. Then, with trust in my skills and faith in what is possible for the client, I engage the client in a musical intervention. Within this intervention, I go beyond the definition of Music Therapy and look at the client's music as a "vital sign." What is a vital sign? It is a reading of energy: heat (temperature), pulse (neuroelectric), blood pressure (potential and kinetic). Music can also be a vital sign. It is a reading of the energies of emotion, cognition, and spirit. I believe it is possible to understand more fully what a client is experiencing by better understanding the energy in their music. When this happens, I know better where to start in the facilitation of the healing process. I have dreams for what is not impossible. Being an effective "eclectic Music Therapist," discovering that I am a healing facilitator at my core, and learning energy medicine (I became a Reiki practitioner along the way) have combined to bring me to new questions in my professional journey. "Is it impossible that I am connecting and relating to clients in a way not often discussed in my evidence-based profession? Something subjective?" "What if energy that I hadn't thought about before is involved?" "How do I access this energy?" "How do I help clients access this energy?" My answers are: "No, it isn't impossible that something subjective is guiding me in Music Therapy sessions." "We are made of energy, so let me explore the range of vibrations and frequencies that I can access." "Intuition!" "Through the energy and language of music clients can intuit their own level of health and well-being. Through Music Therapy interventions, clients learn how to understand and how to modify their energies of dis-ease towards health and well-being." Hello, my name is Julie. I used to say that I am an eclectic Music Therapist, but now I say that I am an Intuitive-Vibrational Music Therapist; and being a Music Therapist keeps being better than I ever dreamed.


I wonder how I will describe my Music Therapy self 20 years from now!

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