Mentally Ill Offenders and the Concept of Identity: Stories in Music Therapy

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This presentation explores the concept of identity for patients with mental illness who are also offenders. Literature from the areas of labelling theory, ethics, and music therapy will be drawn on to examine the experience of mentally ill offenders who have been labelled with such terms as ‘crazy’, ‘psychotic’, ‘criminal’, ‘deviant’, ‘prisoner’ and others. The effect of labelling on patients’ identity will be considered, and how their sense of self develops through labelling. Cases will be presented that illustrate music therapy’s role in assisting mentally ill offenders to begin the process of rebuilding their identity through the use of music.

Learner Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to identify at least two effects of society-imposed labels on their clients (CBMT Scope of Practice: I. B. 2. 3)

2. Participants will be able to identify at least two ways as to how clinical music therapy can assist in providing patients with positive labels and/or identity (CBMT Scope of Practice: I. C. 6. II. A. 5. g. j. l. m)

About Natalie Jack, RMT, MTA, NMT:

Natalie has worked in forensic mental-health in Canada and Australia. She is the Senior Clinician Music Therapist at Thomas Embling Hospital, a high-secure forensic psychiatric facility in Melbourne, Australia. She is studying a Masters in Mental-Health Science and has passions in the areas of clinical-professional supervision and music for pregnancy.