New book offers guidance on how to deliver systematic approaches in forensic music therapy

‘The Clinician's Guide to Forensic Music Therapy’ by Dr Stella Compton Dickinson and Dr Laurien Hakvoort, is the first book to offer clear, evidence-based manuals for forensic music therapists in the treatment and recovery of men and women in secure hospitals and prisons.

This book is the outcome of rigorous health service research over fifteen years and independently conducted research from the Netherlands. (Hakvoort)

The UK model was developed in a national high secure hospital by Compton Dickinson over fifteen years of rigorous research and development.

Unlike using only recreational music, the two Forensic Music Therapy manualized models described in the book have a rigorous evidence base of clinical effectiveness and they are tailored for vulnerable adults, many of whom have been traumatized early in their lives - so they are both victim and perpetrator. There are international and human rights implications in exploring the treatability of treatment resistant and older patients.

Published on 28th April 2017, ‘The Clinician's Guide to Forensic Music Therapy’ is a clinically proven and highly pragmatic new treatment manual to aid music therapists in treating and understanding patients' needs in forensic and other secure psychiatric settings.

The book provides information and advice on how to deliver, effectively and safely, two context-specific, systematic approaches in forensic music therapy.

Since all inmates and patients in prisons and secure hospitals have committed offenses, the issue of whether or not they are treatable, and how this may be undertaken effectively is the central tenet of the book. Referred to as ‘forensic patients’, all have passed through the criminal justice system and all have psychiatric diagnoses. The authors consider how music therapy can contribute to the lives and treatment of men and women who have committed offenses and are incarcerated.

Drawing upon mindfulness, neuroscience group analysis, cognitive analytic and cognitive behavioral science and sociology, Dr. Compton Dickinson and Hakvoort offer finely tuned music therapy treatment interventions for a variety of patients and settings.

The issues addressed in the book include whether and how forensic music therapists can tailor their services to people with identified mental health problems and learning impairments; where therapy would be indicated; as well as how to develop music therapy treatments for the non-clinical populations found in prisons.

Music Therapy can help set appropriate boundaries, and provide possibilities for distance and thinking when words alone, particularly around the index offense, may be too painful or traumatic. This book, through its evidence-based approach, explains how and when to use music therapy.

As the very first of its kind, and written by two leading practitioners of forensic music therapy, this book is essential reading for any music therapist and student of music therapy. It will also be of interest to other clinicians working in correctional or secure psychiatric settings and includes a chapter for them on how to use music effectively.

'Students, clinicians, and researchers will find this text progressive and applicable. The thoroughly tested treatment manuals for this traditionally underserved and marginalized clinical population constitute welcome additions to our profession. I offer a sincere thanks to these distinguished scholars for their remarkable and comprehensive contribution to the music therapy literature.'

Michael J. Silverman, PhD, MT-BC; Director of Music Therapy, University of Minnesota, USA

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