Mental health awareness to the forefront of Music Therapy Week

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Mental health awareness to the forefront of Music Therapy Week

Media release from Music Therapy New Zealand
Music therapy session
Registered music therapist Olly (left, guitar) works with Ryan (centre, drums) and Daniel (right, xylophone) at Auckland's Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre

Music Therapy New Zealand’s annual awareness campaign will run from September 16 – 22 to proudly advocate for music therapy services and the highly qualified NZ Registered Music Therapists (NZ RMTh), as well as celebrating the spectacular triumphs that music therapy is having across Aotearoa.

For 2019, Music Therapy Week will focus on Mental Health & Wellbeing within the industry, drawing attention to the growing role of music therapy in the mental health sector and highlighting the benefits that professional music therapy can have on the wellbeing of our communities. The focus this year on mental health is linked with our current government’s wellbeing budget, with music therapy as one of the ways access and awareness of support for mental health can develop. Music Therapy New Zealand recognise that this emphasis is sadly timely within the context of the devastating trauma inflicted directly within the Christchurch community and the ripple effect this has had across Aotearoa.

As a practice, music therapy is the planned use of music to assist the health and personal growth of people with identified needs, ranging from emotional, intellectual, physical, and social, with practitioners in New Zealand based in a range of medical, rehabilitation, and education settings. Within the field of mental health, therapists work with people experiencing psychosis, schizophrenia, dementia, delirium, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Due to the wide-ranging benefits of the practice, music therapy is also increasingly being used to assist in general wellbeing, mindfulness and stress relief, as well as providing support for those living through the challenges of trauma, separation, grief, and end-of-life care.

Devin Brooks, a Registered Music Therapist in Christchurch, is looking forward to the 2019 campaign and being able to share more widely what they do. “We are witnessing the ever-increasing expansion of music therapy services throughout Aotearoa. Music Therapy Week celebrates this incredible and significant work as well as advocating for the professional use of music therapy by registered music therapist as an essential role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the people we work with.”

Linda Webb MNZM, President of Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ) “It is a privilege to support the valuable work registered music therapists carry out in Aotearoa. Music Therapy Week provides an exciting opportunity for the public to gain an understanding of music therapy practice across a range of contexts, and to appreciate its potential to contribute to building resilient individuals and cohesive communities throughout our country. Our aim is to progressively make a positive impact for a wider range of New Zealanders into the future.”

A growing field around the world, there are 15,000 board-certified music therapists practicing globally, with approximately 70 people holding current practicing certificates in New Zealand who are highly trained to ensure best practice and safety for their clients. Despite the numbers and proven benefits of music therapy, a lack of awareness and understanding hinders the impact that this innovative treatment style can have for a diverse range of people and conditions. Music Therapy Week aims to create transparency by opening this specialised practice up to the public, with therapists and clients in the main centres offering performances, workshops, and insights into how music therapy works in practice.

Beginning the week on Monday 16 September, Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre in Auckland will host a launch event to screen two short films about music therapy in Aotearoa. The films focus on different elements on how music therapy is benefitting people in New Zealand, the first based in Christchurch working with children who have experienced trauma and the second created about Auckland’s CeleBRation Choir, a singing group for those who have experienced a neurological condition. A complete schedule of public events as part of Music Therapy Week 2019 is to come.

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