To understand and to be understood: An exploration of the interactive nature of music and the arts

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

10th European Music Therapy Conference

Conference Location

Vienna, Austria

Peer Review



The expressive, communicative nature of music is a foundation of music therapy, particularly in regard to the client’s ability to interact with others, and to the music therapist’s mediation of the client’s therapeutic needs through music engagement. We typically describe this process as though the music therapist’s own interactive capabilities create the possibilities. In reality, both therapist and client are engaged in a process of learning how to listen to the other, and developing effective interpersonal communication. They each may, in fact, be located in various positions within the complex and multifaceted aspects of music and arts engagement as they interact and shape original, shared, expressive communication and language. This theoretical presentation will explore the highly complex nature of listening and expressing, and how music and the other expressive arts build mediators that allow individuals to understand and to be understood, from the micro level of the self to the macro level of communities and societies. Clinical case examples will be used to exemplify different aspects of this phenomenon.


shared language, listening, communication, music and creative arts


Music Therapy

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