Sarah Pearson

Why Words Matter: How the Common Mis-use of the Term Music Therapy May Both Hinder and Help Music Therapists

Sarah Pearson


This reflective paper examines occasions where medical studies refer to music therapy as a practice that can be used by non-music therapists. This common use of the term music therapy to describe any use of music for wellbeing, is an area of professional frustration and ethical concern for music therapists. The author explores reasons why the term music therapy is so commonly used to describe something other than the scope of practice; the impact on music therapists of this common misconception are discussed; and opportunities for music therapists to respond positively to these misconceptions are explored.


music therapy; scope of practice; professional issues; health care professionals; professional boundaries

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Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)