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Analytical Music Therapy

Eschen, Johannes Th. (2002). Analytical Music Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Reviewed by Anthony Meadows

br2002_026Analytic Music Therapy, edited by Johannes Eschen, emerged from papers presented at the Ninth World Congress of Music Therapy, held in Washington DC in 1999. The book is divided into three parts, which cover 1) a discussion of the origins, theoretical bases and development of Analytic Music Therapy (AMT); 2) applications of AMT with various populations, and; 3) issues related to supervision and training. It will be of interest to those who wish to develop an understanding of the principles of AMT and practice with various clinical populations. It will also be of interest to those who wish to understand how experiential training can be undertaken in the AMT model.

Part One (three chapters) provides a very thorough overview of the development of AMT, including a description of many of the basic concepts integral to the method. This will be of particular benefit to readers who are not familiar with the AMT literature, and wish to gain a basic understanding of the method. ‘Theoretical Bases of Analytical Music Therapy’ (Hadley) stands out in the way it has drawn together psychoanalytic concepts that are integral to AMT, and then related them in a clear and concise manner.

Part Two (six chapters) provides a discussion of clinical applications of AMT as well as a discussion of a range of clinical considerations, such as the role of music. Chapters on work with children (Mahns), adults (Pedersen; Kowski), and in rehabilitation (Scheiby) help expand the reader’s understanding of possible applications of AMT. These chapters, which include case study materials, clearly explain how AMT is undertaken, and the types of adaptations that are necessary. They also challenge the reader to explore the boundaries of AMT. After reading this section, I am left with the question: what are the defining components of AMT; when is the author presenting an adaptation; or something outside the bounds of AMT as defined by Preistley? For example, Purdon (chapter 8) appears to move outside the boundaries of the clinical model developed by Preistley; which “is based primarily on psychoanalytic concepts of Freud, Jung and Klein” (Hadley, 2002 p.34). When Purdon states that she has “largely abandoned any attempts at psychoanalytical interpretations of music” (p.112), she appears to have stepped away from an essential way of conceiving the work.

Part Three (three chapters) discusses approaches to supervision and training in AMT. Pederson’s chapters on experiential training and psychodynamic movement are both well written and challenge the reader to consider, more thoroughly, the role of experiential learning in academic training.

Many of the individual chapters are stimulating and well written. Hadley’s chapter on theoretical bases not only grounds AMT within a psychoanalytic framework, but challenges the reader to think more about where these constructs belong in general music therapy practice. Scheiby writes in a way that leads the reader into the experiences of both therapist and client, and this helps to deepen the reader’s understanding of AMT. However, when considered together, the chapters seem quite difference, and the reader may have difficulty putting them together in a coherent whole. Because the chapters were developed from conference presentations, the reader may be jarred from a scholarly tone to a clinical tone to a spoken tone. Furthermore, there are also expressions and phrases that reflect awkwardness in the English language, but for many of the authors, this is understandable.

This is the first time that a collection of writings have been drawn together on AMT, and this is a good step forward in the development of this method. Analytical Music Therapy provides a helpful companion to Priestley’s original writings.


Hadley, S. (2002). Theoretical bases of Analytic Music Therapy. In Johannes Th. Eschen (Ed.). Analytical Music Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

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