“What Sound Does a Cat Make in Cantonese?”
Advocating for Lingual Plurality in Music Therapy Settings
Keywords:music therapy, multi-cultural, lingual-plurality, interpreter, immigrant, home-visit
In this piece, I wish to examine the notion of translation and to question the need of an interpreter in music therapy settings. Through reflecting on a therapeutic relationship between me, an Israeli music therapist working in the United States, and a Chinese American family (two parents, a grandmother, and their 2-year-old infant that is likely autistic), I wish to ponder the losses and gains of establishing a relationship that refrains from using a dominant verbal language (represented by an interpreter). Embracing the absence of any verbal and cultural monopoly, this work will present a plural lingual approach and show how it provides an opportunity for clients whose primary language differs from the primary language of the therapist to walk their first steps in an unfamiliar world. I will then explore two parallel processes that took place in the therapeutic encounter: the first, relating to the family’s capacity to contain their infant’s minimal verbal state, and the second, relating to my own endeavor to communicate with the family as a non-native English speaker and as an immigrant music therapist. I hope that my reflections will provide insight regarding lingual plurality in a multicultural context in music therapy.
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