Words That Have Completely Different Meanings When You’re A Music Therapist

Words That Have Completely Different Meanings

Grounded – Growing up, being grounded used to be a bad thing. It was a punishment that meant you weren’t going anywhere any time soon. Now, being grounded means feeling centered, at ease, and present. If we tell you you’re grounded, take it as a compliment!

Positive*- In everyday speech, if something is positive it means it is a good thing. In therapy, “positive” just means something is added.

Negative*- On a similar note, negative does not necessarily mean bad, it just means something is taken away.

Affect- In our world, this word is a noun and not a verb. It doesn’t rhyme with effect and is pronounced “ah-ffect” (with the “ah” sounding like it does in the word “apple.”) It means someone’s outward demeanor.

Engagement- When we talk about someone’s engagement, we definitely don’t mean that they’ll be tying the knot any time soon! Instead, we mean that they are actively involved.

TBI, DD, AMTA, AAC, GIM etc etc – Part of being a music therapist is getting used to seeing and hearing acronyms everywhere. For the record, the above listed acronyms mean: Traumatic Brain Injury, Developmental Disability, American Music Therapy Association, Augmented & Alternative Communication, and Guided Imagery and Music.


*An extra note on “positive” and “negative” – In general we work to phrase things to be as objective as possible.  A smile does not always mean joy, and a frown does not always mean sadness. Unless a client tells us “I feel ___” directly, we use words to describe their actions rather than assuming we know their state of mind!