Music Therapy and Gabby Giffords

by justindburton on November 30, 2011

A recent ABC News feature updated the public on the recovery of Gabby Giffords, the Arizona Representative who was shot in the head in January. The focus of the feature was, of course, Giffords herself and the remarkable progress she has made in a relatively short time. The supporting actor of the segment, though, was music therapy and its role in bringing language back into Giffords’ brain.

This seems like the most publicized use of music therapy that I can remember (please chime in if I’ve missed something), and I wonder whether it will result in a spike in enrollment in music therapy programs. These programs seemed the wave of the future in the mid-90s, but it seems academic funding has waned. Are there music therapists reading this who can chime in on the state of the discipline? Does the overwhelmingly positive publicity that comes from an uplifting story like Giffords’ recovery promise a future of more music therapists?

{ 1 comment }

Kimberly Sena Moore December 2, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Thank you for sharing this story with your readers! Speaking as a music therapist, there has been an unprecedented wave of exposure to our profession this year. In addition to the role music therapy played (no pun intended) in Rep. Gifford’s treatment, music therapy has been a central focus on the 2011 movie “The Music Never Stopped” (based on a story by Dr. Oliver Sacks), in Jodi Picoult’s most recent novel “Sing You Home,” and in Allison Pearson’s recently-released novel “I Think I Love You.” We have also had a banner legislative year, with the creation of two music therapy licenses–one in Nevada and one in North Dakota–which will help people in those states more easily access music therapy services.

As for how this will affect the growth of our programs and numbers, only time will tell! But our profession is currently 5,000+ strong and, as I understand it, is growing larger every year.

Thank you for your interest in music therapy! ~Kimberly

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