International music therapy practise in Groningen
Offering therapy in Dutch, English and German
“Music - can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable”
Introduction to music therapy
Hi. My name is Franziska Muller, I was born and raised in Germany and live in Groningen since January 2016. My husband is Dutch and we have two wonderful children.
After finishing my degree study of Social Work in Freiburg/Germany in 2007, I moved to Berlin/Germany. There I studied Music Therapy and worked for 5 years in a social-therapeutic home and assisted living organisation called VIA, where I worked with people with schizophrenia, depression, borderline and addiction. I also worked as a freelance Music Pedagogue and did group lessons such as early musical education at a music school in Berlin.
Why did I become a music therapist?
It started quite simple: with my love for music. Learning to play the classic piano since I was 5 years old, I discovered that playing and listening to music can have a huge impact on how I feel. I had to practise to play with all kinds of states of mind: happy or sad, angry or at peace, busy or bored. And it never left me feeling how I felt when I started playing. Right then and there I experienced how music has this fascinating ability to touch me, challenge me and confront me. And how music itself can function as a mediator, far more powerful than words itself, between people but also as you reflect on yourself.
I learned to play the piano for 12 years. I played concerts by myself as well as four-handed or with other instruments in duets, trios or quartets. Next to that I sang in choirs, bands and learned to play guitar and percussion.
Music therapy FAQ's
1. How should I imagine a music therapy session? I cannot really picture it.
Well, like any other therapy session it starts with introducing each other and looking at what brought you here. Sometimes that alone is a big challenge: to name the problem. After that our work can but does not necessarily involve a lot of spoken word. We will have a room full of instruments which will all be optional to use at all times during the session. Music therapy means we use music as an additional way to experience and express. This can happen actively if you decide to play, or passively in the form of listening to somebody else play.
2. Do I have to know much about music or play an instrument for music therapy to be successful?
This is a good one. The answer is simple: No, and no. Maybe even the opposite is the case. When you learn to play an instrument or to sing, mostly you focus on perfection. You train and you practise to get better and better at it. When it is about a therapeutic process, it is not the goal to make perfect music. Or to fulfill any expectation of perfection. It is more about being aware of the connection between making/listening to the music and what this does with you and to you. The process of deciding for an instrument - may it be your body (singing, clapping) or something external like a guitar or a drum - the producing of sound and the effect it has on you - this will be the focus of our time we work together. It is a personal, individual journey that only you can take. I am there to give the space and the safety to try it, to see and experience the possibilities of music for you!
3. What does music have to do with solving my problem?
Some people might think that using music limits your options if you compare it to verbal therapy. But actually it is the opposite. Using music enriches the possibilities of experience and reflection. Music can also sometimes speak for itself. Music does not scare. With music things can be expressed and therefore experienced without even being fully aware yet of what was expressed. It might even connect you with your pre-verbal experience, the memories you have but cannot necessarily verbally reflect. “I do not have the words.” - we all know the expression which is commonly used. That is the potential of using music as a medium in therapy. Music presents an integral approach, offering more than using your cognition and reflection but including experience by producing it. Or by enjoying to listen to a sound or a song. Sometimes that is all it needs. And sometimes a sound can connect lost pieces, it can raise mindfulness or it can be a transitional object in crisis. So, why would music therapy help you with your problem? Because we are not limited to words. And there lays the secret.
4. What is the difference between listening to some music at home and a music therapy session? Can’t I just listen to or make music by myself or with friends?
Well, indeed it is one of the pro’s of music that you can “use” it everywhere you want. Usually you have a device at hand at any time during the day, headphones on and off you go, dreaming away. Or you have a band because you play an instrument or sing, and you love making music together. It is a fact as old as that of mankind, that music is used to comfort, to feel better, to express yourself and to bring together.
The difference to use music in a therapeutic process is that you are with a professional, a trained therapist. Not alone, not with friends, not on a stage or practising for your next music lesson. You deliberately have chosen to come to therapy, which means stepping out of your comfort zone. You know you want to change things and are motivated to do so. You just don’t know where to start, or what the actual problem could be. A professional therapist can help you focus and get a clearer view on things you struggle with, blind spots which you are not aware of, communication patterns which result in constant misunderstandings and make you feel like nobody gets you. A therapist is not a friend, not a teacher or your music device you can turn on and off. If you choose for music therapy, you choose for getting professional help by a person who is trained and experienced in the field of psychology, psychopathology and anatomy as well as in the science and psychological processes of music.
How it works
Depending on the conditions under which music therapy can cross your path, there are two main ways to start the process. The Dutch health care system offers two possibilities to get a compensation for music therapy, the so called Eerstelijnszorg and the Tweedelijnszorg.
The costs of music therapy, as are of all alternative therapies, are at least partly covered by most health insurances via supplementary insurance that everybody can have. You can check here if your health insurance will cover the costs and how much. In most of the cases there is a maximum amount per session plus a maximum amount per year.
A letter of referral from your general practitioner will not be essential, but regarding the fact that music therapy is still relatively unknown, a recommendation by your GP could help the process.
If you already started a psychotherapy or any other therapeutic process with a BIG registered doctor or therapist (BIG means Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg) and he/she wants to integrate a music therapist in the process, that is possible and will then be covered by your basic healthcare insurance, no supplementary package options needed.
You can - of course - always cover the costs of therapy privately. But in most cases that will not be necessary. Luckily the Netherlands do value and support integral and holistic approaches in therapeutic treatment.
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music"
- Aldous Huxley
(names of patients have been changed)
"At first I notice the tones or sounds that are passed to me, and they change, influence, amplify or reduce my emotions or attitudes. That has an effect on my posture, my facial expression. Or when I am tired, I need deep tones, muffled tones. When I hear them - they are so good for me, I feel more relaxed, recovered. And why? Well, maybe the tones support what is in me and I am able to process it all faster with music than without it. This helps me getting somewhere, making progress."
"Sports, brain jogging or trying to get active are important for me, but they all don’t help me to express my fears. In conversational therapy I can try to express them verbally, but there I have the problem of losing myself in describing my thoughts, it is hart to limit myself. I find too many details important, what I try to communicate becomes cluttered. Music and painting (in a sense these are the same for me) help me to get to the point. Music helps me to sort things out, to give my feeling of vague oppression a face."
"Music appeals to most people. Not everything has to be expressed verbally, but there is the chance that the soul can talk directly through the instrument."
"Sometimes you can access your emotions easier. Music simply unravels a knot, sometimes it gets out of your control - it is not like that in other forms of therapy. Where words are missing or fail, you can fall back on an instrument. The key is not “to talk about it”, but to give your emotions a voice"
If you are interested in music therapy and want to get in touch, feel free to contact me.
Inter Music Therapy
Boterdiep Oostzijde 33
9785 AC Zuidwolde (Groningen)