Psychodynamic Music Therapy


psychodynamic music therapy
free improvisation

How to Cite

Kim, J. (2016). Psychodynamic Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 16(2).


This paper introduces and explores the basic principles of psychodynamic approaches in music therapy. Music is used as a means to explore both conscious and unconscious issues as well as the internal world of the individuals involved in music therapy. However, the focus of therapy is on therapeutic relationship, especially the dynamics of transference and counter-transference between the client and the music therapist. Musical experiences, such as music listening, songs, and improvisation, can be used to facilitate the therapeutic processes, and to achieve individualized therapeutic goals. When clinically appropriate, verbal processing might play as crucial a role as the musical processing. Practitioners of psychodynamic approaches often strive to gain meaning and in-depth understandings from therapeutic experiences, and the approach is therefore suitable for individuals who are ready to work through their personal issues within a therapeutic relationship. Various approaches and techniques have been developed in psychotherapy as well as in music therapy. Perhaps the only commonality in these approaches is that psychodynamic thinking informs the direction of the therapy and therapeutic processes. Clinical vignettes will be introduced within the article to highlight a triadic dynamic—the client, the music therapist, and the music—in order to illustrate the core aspects of psychodynamic music therapy.

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