Window to the World (March, 2021)

The United States of America (USA), which has a population of approximately 331 million, is a country of immigrants. All have diverse values, traditions, and religious beliefs. Despite this, music therapy education is very Western-centric, with little to no influence from other perspectives. There is an increased awareness about this disconnect and an understanding that, if we are to be truly effective healers, we must become culturally sensitive. Corey (2013) asserts it is our “ethical obligation” (p. 24) to develop sensitivity toward cultural differences and build interventions that are consistent with clients’ values. As music therapy professionals/students/interns, we do not aim to have clients live by our personal values. “The illusion of neutrality… [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"][in the USA music therapy community] has provided a veil for privileging Whiteness, and for racist, sexist, heterosexist, abled, cisgender, neurotypical, Islamophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and other dominant perspectives to become the norm, resulting in a dismissal of minoritized voices” (Webb & Swamy., 2020, p. 100). To properly support clients, we must treasure differences and design all therapeutic efforts to be within their cultural framework.

There is a growing movement within the USA music therapy community to improve music therapists’ cultural and multicultural competence. To demonstrate this competence, one must build awareness of their cultural background and how it can impact values, assumptions, and biases, then discover ways to build culturally sensitive techniques and interventions (Schimpf & Horowitz, 2021). Looking towards the future, we must keep these values in mind whenever we are working with clients and our colleagues. Hopefully, the music therapy profession can culminate in the ideal version many of us dare to dream about.

Livia Umeda,

WFMT Student Delegate for North America



Corey, G. (2013). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (9th ed). Brooks/Cole CENGAGE Learning.

Schimpf, M. G., & Horowitz, S. (2021). Cultural humility in clinical music therapy supervision. In M. Belgrave & S. Kim (Eds.), Music therapy in a multicultural context a handbook for music therapy students and professionals (pp. 157-169). Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Webb, A., & Swamy, S. (2020). Introduction to the focus on social justice. Music Therapy Perspectives, 38(2), 100-101.