Music therapy and Somatic Experiencing

Music therapy enables psychotherapeutic work through a co-created therapeutic relationship that is based on or includes non-verbal/pre-verbal ways of connecting. Musical relating encompasses a wide spectrum of interactions and no musical skills are required to access the work. Examples include improvising music together, building a song together, listening to music that is meaningful, or tuning into a person’s innate rhythms and vocal communication to access fundamental parts of our being or earlier developmental stages. It creates possibilities both to access and contain difficult or unsayable experiences, and to expand our strengths and potential. Talking is welcome if the client wishes.

In my practice I take the view that everything may be considered as musical, including movement, play, silence and conversation. My training is psychodynamic, placing the relational process between therapist and client at the heart of the work. My understanding of music, musicality and musical relating as innate biological processes is where the practice of music therapy, for me, intersects with Somatic Experiencing.

For further information about music therapy, you may find the website of the British Association for Music Therapy helpful: www.bamt.org

Somatic Experiencing is an experiential therapy founded by Peter Levine. Neurobiological research over the past four decades has shown how from as early as in utero, human experiences are “logged” in the nervous system. When certain experiences have been overwhelming to us, our nervous system responses can become blocked or stuck, creating intolerable emotional, physical and sensory experiences and limitations on our potential. In Somatic Experiencing the practice is to help a client safely build their own resources and at a very carefully managed pace to begin to re-process the responses that have become blocked in the nervous system.

Clients may find it helpful to learn about their nervous system responses during this work as such an understanding may bring a greater sense of agency and control. Somatic Experiencing has primarily been developed with and for adults but my understanding of somatic processing informs my work with children and young people and I aim to adapt aspects of Somatic Experiencing into accessible forms to suit age and stage.

For further information about Somatic Experiencing, you may find the following website helpful: traumahealing.org/se-101/

Please note that the terms “music therapy” and “music therapists” are protected titles, used by practitioners from approved trainings as validated by the Health and Care Professions Council, who register and monitor standards of approved professionals.

Please also note that the terms “Somatic Experiencing” and “SE” are registered trademarks.

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