Music Therapy’s Development in Mental Healthcare: A Historical Consideration of Early Ideas and Intersecting Agents

Tríona McCaffrey


Considering the history and development of music therapy in mental health is important in providing practitioners of the field with an understanding of the context in which the profession has emerged. The shaping of the discipline towards professionalization of music therapy has involved multiple and intersecting agents, ideas and processes over many years. Written from the perspective of a music therapist who is based in Ireland, this paper reviews some of the milestones and significant junctures that framed the practice of music therapy in mental health care. It also notes how some of these ingredients have been amplified or diminished over time. The author observes the numerous references to the ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ along this trajectory and speculated whether such narratives are being lost in descriptions of contemporary music therapy practice in mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)