Volume 2 (2) 2010 – Article
Creating a Safe Place in the Midst of Aggression: Music Therapy in Child Psychiatry
Working as a music therapist in a psychiatric unit for children with learning disabilities, one is often confronted with a lot of aggression. Most of these children have attachment disorders and severe behavioural problems. By which means can music exist in music therapy within this specific setting? Can we speak of a traumatic nature in music and body? This article will present a case study, where finding a safe place within music therapy is of major importance. Learning and listening to songs can be a necessary way to safeguard control for the client, gain some self-confidence, and create a place for regression. Going through this process in finding a safe and contained place within music therapy, the possibility of playing techniques arises, offering the freedom for exploration and a form of control and predictability. The case study concludes with the importance of playfulness whereby traumatic material can be digested through the music. Also, the role of singing songs in music therapy with this population is highlighted briefly.
Keywords: music therapy, child psychiatry, learning disability, aggression, trauma, playfulness
Marieke Degryse graduated in 2000 as a Bachelor in Psychology and in 2005 as a Master in Music Therapy in Belgium. She has worked as a music therapist with children and adults with learning disabilities and joined the music therapy centre Musers in Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina) for 18 months, where she worked with special needs children in a post-war environment. She is currently employed in Fioretti; the child psychiatric department of the St. Guislain hospital in Ghent (Belgium).