Music therapy in Turkey: Historical background and current perspectives on dementia and end-of-life care — Burçin Uçaner Çifdalöz

Special feature | Music therapy in dementia and end-of-life care: Mediterranean perspectives

Volume 12 (2) 2020 – Report (first published on 6 July 2020)

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Music therapy in Turkey: Historical background and
current perspectives on dementia and end-of-life care

Burçin Uçaner Çifdalöz

Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University, Turkish Music Conservatory, Turkey


This report has two objectives: a) to provide a historical background of music therapy in Turkey covering the period from the Seljuks (1037-1194) to modern times, and b) to describe current music interventions applied in Turkey in end-of-life care and dementia. During the Seljuk and Ottoman period, many şifahanes (hospitals) were built, and important scientists of the period from the 9th century until the 19th century included music and health issues in their work. In the last period of the Ottoman Empire, some şifahanes were closed and some of them were destroyed in wars. Then, the use of music as a therapeutic agent was forgotten until the end of the 1970s. Later on, some articles on the subject were written and interventions were carried out under the name of ‘music therapy’. These practices are based on the interventions of music-based practices in hospitals. In 2013, music therapy was included as a discipline in the Department of Traditional and Complementary Medicine of the Ministry of Health. Since 2018, universities have begun to issue certificates of music therapy approved by the Ministry of Health. Since there is no undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level training, the number of music therapists is insufficient in Turkey. Health workers or musicians are performing music-based practices with end-of-life care and dementia patients, and these practices are viewed as music therapy. Ultimately, the services provided in end-of-life care and dementia in Turkey are not music therapy applications, but rather music- based interventions conducted by musicians or healthcare professionals.


music therapy, Turkey, history, dementia, end-of-life care


Burçin Uçaner Çifdalöz received her bachelor’s degree from the Musical Sciences Department of the College of Fine Arts at Erciyes University in 2001. She received her master’s and PhD degrees in 2007 and 2011 respectively from the Music Education Department at Gazi University College of Education. She founded the Music Therapy Association in Turkey (MUZTED), of which she is the current president. She serves as department head at the Musicology Department of Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University’s Turkish Music State Conservatory. Since 2006, she has focused on music therapy and has participated in numerous congresses internationally. She is the author of “Celal Esad Arseven ve Müzik” as well as the editor/translator of the Turkish version of the book “Defining Music Therapy (Kenneth E.Bruscia)” and the editor of the Turkish version of “Music Therapy Principles (Gerard Ducourneau)”. She is one of the chapter authors and editors of the book in “Music Therapy in Turkey” published by Cambridge Scholar Publishing. []