For more than 30 years, Jim Borling, professor of music and the director of music therapy at Radford University, has used music to help people heal themselves. For the past two decades, he has become further known for his use of music therapy process while specializing in the treatment of addiction.
"My approach to working with substance abuse is multi-dimensional," Borling said. "I address the biophysical needs, psycho-emotional needs and psycho-spiritual needs of a person through music."
Borling has published several chapters in texts on music therapy. Most recently, he has contributed "Music Therapy and Addiction: Addressing Essential Components of the Recovery Process" to "Developments in Music Therapy Practice: Case Study Perspectives," edited by Anthony Meadows; and "Considerations in Treatment Planning for Addictions" to "Treatment Planning for Music Therapy Cases," edited by Anita Gadberry.
Borling's contributions synthesize his practical experiences in treating addiction with music. Although it is a challenge to frame the complicated interactions between substance abuse and music therapy in a single textbook chapter, the experience of writing for scholarly publications produces a new type of understanding for students, Borling said.
"It takes some pretty focused work," he said. "What constructs help students learn? I'm trying to capture the art of music therapy, the science of health change, and articulate it in an academic way."
The hard work of writing a textbook chapter doesn't benefit only students. By challenging himself to present his work to his academic community, Borling has seen that work through a new lens.
"I've become an even deeper believer in what I do," he said. "I feel even stronger about my field. It has deepened my perspective."
In addition to his dedicated work with students, Borling is a busy man outside of RU as well. In addition to his responsibilities as an educator, he maintains his own music therapy practice, MusicVisions LLC in Roanoke, and works with the intensive outpatient program Avenues to Recovery Inc.