This position paper presents a new paradigm
about the intrinsic structure and nature of arts and health practice. This paradigm
is based on a variety of research experiences over twenty years working as a music
therapist, musician, music and health practitioner, researcher and director of
an arts and health programme in university teaching hospitals, community
contexts, and non-governmental organizations in Ireland and the UK.
The aim of this paper is to propose a new perspective
on the term arts and health, to encompass all arts related activity that exists
in contexts related to health. This paradigm aims to counter the artificial and
defensive barriers constructed between practitioners and professional groups within
the field, encourage greater respect and understanding between practitioners
and assist in identifying training and development needs for the various arts professionals
working in contexts related to health and well-being. It is proposed that the current commonly held assumptions
surrounding definitions of arts and health and arts therapies are unhelpful and
problematic and should be refined.