Language Matters

Addressing the use of systemic language in music therapy practice in Canada

As an allied health profession, music therapy in Canada has predominantly embraced the language and views towards individuals and health that are well-established within Western healthcare. A consequence of this relationship is the adoption of Euro-centric and ableist perspectives that become apparent in music therapy literature, research, and practice. Canadian music therapists Amy Clements-Cortés and Joyce Jing Yee Yip recognize these systemic issues in music therapy and are ready to see a change.

In this article, Clements-Cortés and Yip outline concerns with the language used in Western healthcare as it has been employed in music therapy and the power dynamics that it can create. The authors discuss alternative language that music therapists can employ stemming from neurodiversity and decolonization movements. The article concludes with practical examples of how researchers and clinicians in music therapy can use inclusive and reflexive language in their work. It calls upon music therapists to take accountability and make changes at the individual level to break down the systemic barriers in music therapy.

Published : November 15, 2022