KRZYSZTOF STACHYRA : The silence is a part of music therapy…: An interview with Stefano Navone from Italy

By Krzysztof Stachyra

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Dr. Stefano Navone. Email:

I met Dr. Stefano Navone at the music therapy conference in Poland. I found his presentation interesting, but there was something more. During the presentation and our short conversation I had the feeling that I was talking to a person who is very committed to music therapy. He is that special kind of maturity in his understanding of music therapy. Stefano Navone is a musician and music therapist. He graduated in Musicology from the University of Bologna and in Psychology from the University of Padova. He received his degree in Music Therapy from the Assisi school, and specialized at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome in Music Therapy and Psychiatry. He has been active in the field of music therapy since 1989, especially in psychiatric and disability areas. Presently he works as a music therapist in Service Centre in Montecchio Precalciano, Vicenza (Italy). He also also part of the Board of A.I.M. (Italian Professional Association of Music Therapy) and is Italian country representative for EMTC and nominated Coordinator for South Europe. I asked him to tell something about his music therapy experiences.

Krzysztof Stachyra: Why music therapy?

Stefano Navone: Without exaggerating, but for me Music Therapy is not just a job but a lifestyle choice. It is the possibility to combine passion for music and helping relationship. Freud explained that three professions were impossible: the Government, the Education and the Psychoanalysis. If he had known Music Therapy he would have certainly added the fourth! In any case for me it is the best profession in the world!

K.S.: I feel a passion in your words. That is great! What is your music therapy background?

S.N.: My theoretical approach is an psychodynamic-relational Music Therapy that provides an operational methodology based on the criteria of non-directivity towards the patient and an attitude of observation and listening, related to the concepts of neutrality and countertransference as in the traditional psychoanalytic work. From an operational point of view, in this methodological context, the music therapist implements all the strategies to promote the expression of the patient and his creativity, thereby facilitating a real expression of the self: a musical improvisation technical linked to non verbal approach will be the peculiar style of this type of intervention. Another important issue in my Music Therapy approach is the definition of a temporal-spatial structure, along with the set of rules defining the therapeutic setting: these two elements, acting together, acquire a fundamental importance as facilitators of therapeutic actions, and as a consequence, of changes for better.

K.S.: I had the pleasure of taking part in your presentation about your work with a patient with autism. I must tell you that I was impressed by it. Is the work with people with autism the main point of your interest?

S.N.: Beyond the patients with autism, I have been working for many years in psychiatric and disability area with adults. From a couple of years I collaborate with a Community for rehabilitation of young with drugs addiction; it is a new and exciting experience for me, which forced me to reconsider many aspects of my theoretical approach and get back in “the game” completely as a therapist.

K.S.: Do you remember the patient who surprised you the most? What happened?

S.N.: I still remember with much pain a young psychotic girl who had suffered several sexual violence; after a year of treatment she began to express her feelings with me reviving those moments; I think that this experience has changed my life and the value that I gave to our discipline.

K.S.: Yes, such experiences can change not only patients, but also a therapist’s life… Music, patients and a therapist are the triad in the process of music therapy, so we, as therapists, are in the process too. We often talk about the music, but I feel that also sometimes moments of silence in the therapy sessions can be as important as music. Do you agree with this? What do you think about the role of silence during music therapy sessions?

S.N.: The silence for me it is not just a technical way of work but a mental condition that the Music therapist must acquire to develop and to promote his non-verbal communication for an better adherence to the pathological situation of the patient. I think that the nonverbal approach in psychiatric disorders, and especially in schizophrenia (as in other diseases with an impairment of the communicative functions), it is a viable hypothesis for the possibility of reactivating and expanding the archaic expressive and relational nonverbal abilities that persist across the individual’s life span as modes of interpersonal experience. Through nonverbal behavior and sound-music performances, the patient conveys his/her emotions and feelings, establishes an ”affect attunement” with the music therapist and is stimulated to modify the global emotional and affective status. The Music Therapy aims to achieve a positive patient’s adaptation to the social environment through the establishment of a harmonious inner condition.

K.S.: Do you have any advice for your music therapy friends who are just at the beginning point of their music therapy work with people with autism?

S.N.: The first thing that I would advise to young music therapists it is to work on their own anxiety and on desire to get something at all costs; with patients with autism, in my opinion, it is very important to act for “subtraction”, it is more important to know what not to do more than to know what to do.

Finally, even if it is banal, I would suggest to work with love, thinking at first to the patients and then to the music and to our skills.

K.S.: Thank you very much!



Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (ISSN 1504-1611)