Daily Archives: October 12, 2012

Isenberg, C. (2012). Primum nil nocere (above all, do no harm): A direction for the development of music therapy. The Canadian Journal of Music Therapy,18(1), p62-78.

In this article, Isenberg offers a very legitimate challenge to the notion presented to her in earlier years of study that music therapy is a benign modality of clinical practice. Examining the hypothetical scenarios that were actually presented at national conferences in previous decades, intended to depict the “ideal” music therapist and the status of the music therapy assessment in the context of the interdisciplinary collaboration on behalf of a client, Isenberg reveals the danger of such a disconnected and romanticized perception of theĀ  professional regard for the work of a music therapist among other clinicians wherein those belonging to the professional group of music therapists fail to recognize the multitude of potential circumstances in which poor implementation of music therapy most certainly can cause significant harm to the clients being served. This assertion is established also in the context of the criteria by which the government of Quebec recognizes a professional body, in which protective orders are applied to ensure the highest level of practice and to protect those receiving these services from complications and harm that could result from incompetent practice. If the community of music therapists fail to recognize such risks in their practice, there would therefore be much less substance to support its eligibility to be recognized by the government, especially considering the fourth of five qualifying criteria established by Quebec’s Professional Code, which evaluates “the gravity of the prejudice which might be sustained by those
who have recourse to the services of such persons because their competence or integrity was not supervised by the order” (p. 69).

While I am not familiar with the Code of Ethics established by the CAMT (Canadian Association for Music Therapy), it is clear that the standards of practice upheld by AMTA identify very specific requirements for professional competence, practice, and ethics of certified music therapists. At the very least, this article underscores that while the recognition of the efficacy demonstrated in the highest standards of our practice has improved since previous decades, the risks and potential for harm to a client must consistently be respected in order to adequately advocate for the increased presence and funding for music therapy services to the general population.