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Rezeptive Musiktherapie: Theorie und Praxis

br2005_050Frohne-Hagemann, Isabelle (2004). Rezeptive Musiktherapie: Theorie und Praxis [Receptive Music Therapy: Theory and Practice]. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag – Zeitpunkt musik.

In music therapy practice, improvisation has often become the method of choice, independently of the theoretical orientation of a particular school. However, on asking patients how they access and use music, listening to music is usually more familiar and also less problematic and frightening for them. Receptive music therapy has remained peripheral and is only gradually awaking from the “Sleeping Beauty” hibernation – with these words; the editor Isabelle Frohne Hagemann begins this book.

With various contributions to the book on the use of music listening in the therapeutic setting, the reader experiences a fascinating journey through the rich and varied landscape of receptive music therapy.

For example, Susanne Metzner describes receptive music therapy from the psychoanalytical perspective. She emphasises primarily the meaning of music itself. The connection to psychoanalytic theory gives this contribution a theoretically coherent quality. She describes approaches where music is described as intermediate in the sense of a transitional object, Winnicott (Winnicott, 1985), and where music listening enables a path into free association. However, it is at times hard to see how these concepts are used in the practical work – a case vignette could have helped to clarify the connection between theory and practice.

In another chapter, receptive music therapy is described as the connection with other means of expression, such as writing while listening to music, thereby inviting the reader to envisage combinations of creative media in the therapeutic setting. Lony Schiltz writes about how she combined music listening and story writing in order to facilitate the process of free association in her work with adolescents. The chapter keeps a good balance of practice and theory and enables the reader to find practical impulses as well as theoretical discussions.

An area where only receptive work is possible is music therapy with premature infants. Monika Nöcker-Ribaupierre focuses on this early stage of development. The therapeutic use of music supports and helps premature infants on both the physiological and psychological level. This work is empathically and impressively described and lets the reader gain an insight into the exclusively nonverbal phase of human beings.

A perhaps classical approach in receptive music therapy is the idea of using the effect of listening to music on the human consciousness. Andrea Schmucker writes in her contribution “The sound-induced trance according to Wolfgang Strobl” about the various stages of consciousness in the therapeutic work using sound as a medium. She describes using the sound bowl, didgeridoo, or frame drum, and also includes some theoretical considerations.

The method of guided imagery and music (GIM) according to Helen Bonny is described in several chapters. Edith M. Geiger outlines the general idea; Birgit Süselbeck-Schulz gives an impression of a very specific field of work in her article “GIM and grieving”.

Christoph Schwabe’s Regulative Music Therapy (RMT) is also detailed in two chapters, by Helmut Röhrborn and Thomas Wosch. The latter shows the combination of RMT and GIM and describes the effects on the emotional level.

A chapter by Tonius Timmermann closes this book by describing the significance of receptive music therapy in the music therapy training at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts. This chapter effectively rounds up the previous contributions and also adds some specific aspects related to the situation of the training. With this chapter, the book comes to a full circle in a way, because also in that music therapy training, receptive music therapy doesn’t seem to have quite the place it deserves. All in all, the contributions of this book are a successful and exciting overview of specifically the receptive parts of the music therapy landscape because they let the most varied methods stand alongside each other.

Winnicott, D.J. (1985). Vom Spiel zur Kreativität [From Play to Creativity]. Stuttgart: Klett Cotta

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