Music as Psychotherapy: Interview with Dr. Allen Bishop

Allen Bishop man standing on patioDr. Allen Bishop, PhD, is the newest member of AUSB’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology core faculty. His research centers on the intersection of music, psychoanalytic treatment and creativity. He says his “life as a psychoanalyst came about after my love affair with the piano, Beethoven and classical music.”

Dr. Bishop is a licensed psychologist, certified psychoanalyst, and concert pianist. He has also served as a core faculty member, Department Chair, and Accreditation Liaison Officer at Pacifica Graduate Institute for over 15 years.

Q&A with Dr. Bishop

What are your personal specializations in the field of psychology?

I specialize in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and music, and its relationship to the internal world.

Are you teaching any courses?

I teach Philosophical Foundations, Group Dynamics, Projective Testing, Advanced Clinical Skills.

If you could teach any subject, what would it be?

Music and the Internal World, which is a course designed to encourage subtle countertransference listening and developing emotional intuition. It views the patient as someone struggling to sing their own unique song and frames the psychotherapy interchange as a concert/artist event.

How has your career as a concert pianist influenced your work as a psychoanalyst?

My life as a psychoanalyst came about after my love affair with the piano, Beethoven and classical music. I’ve played since I was six. I discovered when I went into analysis at 18 that music and analysis have the same goal of emotional opening and communication.

What is rewarding about this field – as a clinician and a scholar?

The greatest reward is passing on the clinical wisdom imparted to me by my mentors over a long career.

What unique opportunities do you think AUSB’s PsyD program provides aspiring students?

The program is positioned to help students gain a greater appreciation of the therapeutic relationship as the basis for therapeutic action.

What was a life-changing class you took or project you worked on while earning your own doctorate?

My dissertation was devoted to understanding the ABD Phenomena from a psychodynamic perspective. ABD refers to “all but dissertation.” My dissertation was on the effects of the psychoanalytic theory of “fear of success” on the ability to complete the research and graduate. Several interesting correlations emerged from the study. Using a discriminant function analysis it was determined that a specific set of defensive attributions predicted accurately whether a student would complete their dissertation or not.

What advice do you have for current clinical psychology doctoral students students building their careers?

Gain experience working with children and psychotic patients and begin to teach at the undergraduate level.

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