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Fenster zur Musiktherapie. Musiktherapie-Theorie 1976-2001

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle. (2002). Fenster zur Musiktherapie. Musiktherapie-Theorie
Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.

Reviewed by Lars Ole Bonde

br2002_022FSIt feels a little awkward to write a review of a German book in English, especially
when neither of the two languages is your own first! However, I do this for the –
hopefully – many music therapists, who read both languages. I consider the “language
barrier” (English-German; English-French, English-Spanish, English-Italian) one of
the most serious problems we face in the exchange and sharing process of the
international community of music therapy (cf. the problems of
translation/interpretation in international conferences).
Isabelle Frohne-Hagemann is a prominent example of a German music therapist who
for many years has made an effort to communicate with the English spoken
members of the community (see references). Her new German book is a collection of
selected articles and papers from 25 years. It covers the following clinical areas: addiction, depression, personality disorders and psychosomatic problems. It presents theoretical models for the understanding of music therapy in schools, in interdisciplinary work with other art forms, and in supervision of music therapists. Furthermore, it gives important contributions to the meta-theory of music therapy. The book closes with a long and important essay on the aesthetic and the bodily dimension in music therapy, (an abridged version is available in the 2001-subkeynote referenced below).

The core concepts of Frohne-Hagemann’s work is “integrative”, “Gestalt”, “aesthetics” and “the lived body” (“Leib-Subjekt”, “Informierter Leib”). She has for many years been inspired by Gestalt principles – as understood and developed by Hilarion Petzold at the Fritz Perls Institute in Berlin. “Integrative music therapy” is not an eclectic model; its principles are interdisciplinary and integrates procedures and techniques from Gestalt psychotherapy, psychodrama, psychoanalysis, other arts therapies etc. “not from a theoretical or methodological point of view, but from theoretical and methodological/practice oriented heuristics” (p. 8). At a meta-theoretical level the integration is informed by Petzold’s so called “Tree of science”, a model enabling comparison and compatibility of psychotherapeutic approaches.

The development of the “Gestalt” concept within music therapy theory and practice is unfolded in the book “Musik und Gestalt” (1990, 1999). The aim was and is ” a common Gestalt of music therapy, in which the whole is different from the sum of the different components, a Gestalt that is specific in all the directions it takes, yet forming a good network.” (p.10).

Integrative music therapy has developed an anthropology of man as a creative being, with the body as a “lived-musical subject” (“leib-musikalische Subjekt”, referring to Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological understanding of the body as a “complete sensorial organ” (I.e.: I both have and am my body, there is a constant polarity or dialectic of ‘being’ and ‘having’ a body, as often experienced by clients in improvisations – see p. 217 or 244).

The integrative approach is basically founded on hermeneutic principles, and the hermeneutic circle (or spiral) lies behind the model of therapeutic development in four phases (p. 92f): 1. The initial phase of reflection and orientation; 2. The action phase of involvement in the therapeutic process; 3. The integration phase of autonomous bodily reactions, new reflections and ideas; 4. The reframing phase of transforming ideas and reflection into new patterns or strategies, both in the music and in real life. – This “therapeutic spiral” corresponds to the “hermeneutic spiral” (in German: Wahrnehmung – Durcharbeiten – Reflexion – Integration), and thus the model can be used to describe and interpret many different processes at different levels – e.g. music therapy supervision (see below).

It is not possible to go into all the articles/chapters, so I will concentrate on a few.

(Chapter 15) Having recently finished the yearly entrance test with 25 applicants for the music therapy program in Aalborg I read Frohne-Hagemann 1992-paper “Von fussförmigen Müsliessern und Nadelstreifigen – Wer darf Musiktherapeut werden?” with a special interest. This paper has many thoughtprovoking points, like: Müsli-eaters attract Müsli-eaters, an entrance test is also a test of the program’s self understanding and goals; the world of music therapy may be an alienated world. How do you think of your own training program?

(Chapter 16) The article on The Musical Life Panorama (Das musikalische Lebenspanorama) is partly available in English (Frohne-Hagemann 1998). It is not only a presentation of a powerful and original clinical group method using both receptive and active methods, but also a rare example of the implementation of narrative and social constructionist principles in music therapy. The potential of narrative practice is the enabling of re-experience and re-structuring of life events and patterns (c: narrative configurations and plots) in a reflective group setting. All sorts of musical memories and ideas may be used in the systematic uncovering and working through of the clients’ musical life stories (a complete manual is given p.192-196). The method is illustrated with a beautiful group case story of 8 women from the former East Berlin (the borough of Marzahn). 3 evening sessions with group sharings of musical memories from their childhood and youth in DDR, with group improvisations (‘directed’ by one of the group members) and reflections on these are described.

Chapter 19 and 20 is more or less equivalent to Frohne-Hagemann’s contribution to Michele Forinash’s new book on Music Therapy Supervision. She presents “a Heuristic of Supervision” based on the general hermeneutic spiral, and enabling the systematic use of different music therapy procedures and techniques in the supervision process. The first phase of “perception and relating”, exploring transferences and countertransferences of a supervisee may be organized as a group improvisation, where the group members play their “Resonant” experience of the supervisee’s presented problem. In the second phase of “working through and understanding” different techniques (identification, musical portraying, role plays etc.) may be used for a focused group work, where the supervisee acts as ‘musical director’ of the group. In the third phase of “multiperspective reflection” the inclusion of several perspectives and interpretations (by the group members and the supervisor) enables a broad political, theoretical, practical and ethical understanding of the problem as experienced in phase one and two. In the final phase of “integration and training” the group supports the supervisee in the exploration and implementation of new strategies, conflict solutions and therapeutic procedures. This process may also involve group music techniques like role playing.

In general this book of collected papers from 25 years is characterized by this important quality: it provokes the reader to reflexive thinking and personal statements, and it often gives precise and helpful suggestions for the solution of problems or new ways of thinking. This book – the first in the author’s own name – explains to me, why I for many years have considered Frohne-Hagemann one of the major European contributors to music therapy theory. She has broad clinical experience; she always describes the problem(s) addressed very clearly; she connects theory and practice in a convincing and relevant way; and the guiding principles of her integrative work and thinking have remained stable yet flexible through all the years. As mentioned above an English version of the article on “The musical life panorama” (MLP) was printed in Nordic Journal of Music Therapy vol 7(2) 1998 (also available as an online article at http://www.njmt.no/artikkelfrohne72.html). Only three of the other papers are available in English versions: The articles on Supervision and on the treatment of Depression informed by Integerative Music therapy plus the subkeynote from Naples 2001 (available on respectively CD-Roms II and IV from Universität Witten-Herdecke).


Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (1998). The Musical Life Panorama (MLP) – a facilitating method in the field of clinical and sociocultural music therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 7(2), pp 104-112.

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (1998a). Integrative Music Therapy in the treatment of depression. Paper at 4th European Music Therapy Congress, Leuwen. In Aldridge, David (Ed.) Music therapy info II [CD-Rom]. Witten-Herdecke:David Aldridge/Institut fur Musiktherapie, University of Witten-Herdecke.

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (1998b). Integrative approaches to supervision for music therapists. Paper at 4th European Music Therapy Congress, Leuwen. In Aldridge, David (Ed.) Music therapy info II [CD-Rom]. Witten-Herdecke:David Aldridge/Institut fur Musiktherapie, University of Witten-Herdecke.

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (1999). Integrative Supervision for Music Therapists. In De Backer Jos & Wigram, Tony Clinical Applications of Music Therapy in Psychiatry. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (2001). Integrative Techniques in Professional Music Therapy Group Supervision. In Forinash, M. Music Therapy Supervision. Gilsum NH: Barcelona Publishers.

Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (2002). Aesthetic Dimensions in Music Therapy. Sub-Keynote at 5th European Music Therapy Congress, Naples. In Aldridge, David & Fachner, Jürg (Eds.) Music therapy info IV, [CD-Rom]. Witten-Herdecke: David Aldridge/Institut fur Musiktherapie, University of Witten-Herdecke.

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