Reflections on Community Music Therapy and Conflict Transformation
Keywords:community music therapy; conflict transformation; peace and conflict studies; critical theory; youth in conflict; seeds of peace camp
Community Music Therapy (COMT) is a development increasingly referenced and often nebulous in the field of music therapy. Depending on its description in the literature, COMT seems to be situated between an aspiration to stretch beyond boundaries of the ‘consensus model’ and serve atypical populations, and a working practical approach with clear guidelines. Curiosity around this phenomenon inspired an initial inquiry by the author into potential theoretical underpinnings to provide context and definition for its aims, namely critical theory. Through identifying the links between CoMT, critical theory/psychology, and conflict transformation–the approach utilized in modern peacekeeping–the author hoped to inspire more intentional efforts by music therapists working at the convergence of those ideas. This research culminated in the author’s master’s thesis, a critical review and attempted integration of these topics, in 2018. This article aspires to build upon that research by remapping the knowledge gained onto the experiences that catalyzed the inquiry. Through vignettes and commentary, the author uses a reflexive, critical lens to examine his tenure as a music counselor at Seeds of Peace Camp, a conflict transformation camp. By re-examining trial-by-fire moments and their aftermath, the author identifies relevant research in the aforementioned fields that may have enhanced or explained participant responses. This serves to broaden the collective understanding of the overlapping goals and practices of CoMT, critical theory/psychology and conflict transformation.
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