Keep in mind that these terms are somewhat arbitrary, because there is much fluidity in this newly emerging field. It’s rapidly expanding, informed by rediscovery of ancient knowledge and also by new knowledge gleaned from wide-ranging sciences including quantum physics, neuroscience, energy psychology, and brain biology.
The term sound therapist has come into use relatively recently. Therapistgenerally implies some sort of medical intervention, which is why governments often regulate the term.Sound therapists that I am aware of have typically studied a related field in depth. They may be professionals in music therapy, nursing, acoustics, chiropractic, quantum physics, neuroscience, energy psychology, brain biology, massage therapy, or yoga therapy, for example. The British Academy of Sound Therapy teaches a broad range of specific techniques in a systematic, in-depth way. Founder Lyz Cooper has done some ground-breaking research that demonstrates a correlation between sound therapy and improved health.
Sound healers seem to emphasize a more organic, intuitive, holistic approach. I’ve observed that those who use the term healer, such as The International Sound Healer’s Association, draw more heavily from mystical and spiritual knowledge, coming from Indigenous cultures, as well as yogic traditions, Kabbalah, and mystics of every spiritual tradition. When applied by skilled practitioners, it is highly effective as well.
In an additional category are people whom I would call sound artists, skilled musicians whose music is utterly transformative.
So, which am I? I am trained in Reiki (energy healing), music, and clinical psychology. I bring intuitive, artistic, and scientific mind-sets to my sound therapy work. I'm actually all three — a sound therapist, a sound healer, and a sound artist.
But after thinking it over, I’ve decided to call myself a sound therapist. Here’s why:
As a psychotherapist, with an MA in counselling psychology, the scope of my practice is much broader than Reiki and music. Because of my psychology training and experience, I can safely go deeper with sound therapy clients when indicated. Sound sometimes unlocks strong emotions or trauma. I know many other techniques that can help with whatever arises.
I also have training in professional ethics. Ethical guidelines protect clients. They include confidentiality, boundaries, informed consent, and staying within the scope of my training. I belong to a professional association, carry liability insurance, and follow standards about privacy and record keeping. Because of this, some insurance companies cover my services, including sound therapy.
Whether you consider yourself a sound therapist, sound healer, or sound artist, you are on the leading edge in an emerging field that is contributing greatly to people’s wellbeing. I hope these reflections help as you explore your own role in this exciting field.