Music Therapy in Iceland: Professional Recognition

Soffía Fransiska Rafnsdóttir Hede, Cand. Mag
Photo of Soffía Fransiska

Soffia is a music teacher and music therapist who graduated Cand. Mag. in music therapy from Aalborg University 2007. She works with children and people with various disabilities, in school settings and in private practice in Reykjavík. She has been at the front of the Icelandic legalisation process since 2009.

Music therapy in Iceland is a very small field, with only 10 music therapists in the country and not all of them working in health care. Since the year 2000, the members of The Icelandic music therapy Association (FÍSMÚS) have been, in collaboration with the Icelandic Art Therapy Association (FLÍS), seeking recognition from the Icelandic government as health professionals, and the protection of the job title “music therapist” and “art therapist” respectively.

The journey that began 18 years ago has given rise to both practical, political, ethical and philosophical questions regarding our work. The paper presentation will give an overview of FÍSMÚS´s 19 year long process in getting professional recognition. It will tell how the political and social environment affected the process and where we are in that process now. It will also address some of the theoretical issues, such as: “Is a legal job title necessary to ensure the safety of our clients? What needs to be considered in the legalisation process and why is legal protection of our work title important? Should we rather seek legalisation in the education system?” Ethical and theoretical issues such as, “Do we have enough research to ask for status as an evidence based profession? Is legalization necessary to ensure the safety of our clients? Can music therapy be harmful?,” will be addressed.

Many music therapy associations in numerous countries are working toward professional recognition and will probably do so in the years to come. We should be able to learn from each others’ experiences to be able to get global (or at least European) recognition for our profession. Therefore a discussion about the relevance, ethics and politics of professional recognition is important to the international music therapy environment and will be a part of this presentation.

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