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Paul Newham (born 16 March 1962) is a British writer known for developing applications of voice, sound, and music in psychotherapy, psychology, music therapy, and audio therapy.[1][2][3]

Paul Newham
Paul Newham.jpg
Paul Newham
Born16 March 1962 (1962-03-16) (age 57)

Childhood InfluenceEdit

Newham's biological father was Berthold Paul Wiesner, the physiologist known for coining the term 'Psi', now widely used to signify parapsychological phenomena, and who sired possibly as many as six hundred children through anonymous sperm donation at the London medical offices of his wife, Dr Mary Barton. All records of the donors were destroyed.[4][5]

Newham grew up falsely believing that his mother's abusive husband Derek Joseph Newham was his biological father, and frequently attempted to discern the subject of violent arguments between them as he listened in his bedroom, from where only the timbre of the voices, including shouts, screams, and crying were perceptible.[6]

Early Work in Expressive TherapyEdit

Alfred Wolfsohn

Newham was subsequently inspired by the life of German vocal coach Alfred Wolfsohn, and the research conducted at the Alfred Wolfsohn Voice Research Centre.

Alfred Wolfsohn (1896 - 1962) was a German Jew who suffered persistent auditory hallucination of screaming soldiers, whom he had witnessed dying of wounds while serving as a stretcher bearer in the trenches of World War I, at the age of eighteen. After being subsequently diagnosed with shell shock, Wolfsohn failed to recover in response to hospitalization or psychiatric treatment, but claimed to have cured himself by vocalizing the extreme sounds of his hallucinations, bringing about what he described as a combination of catharsis and exorcism.[7][8][9]

Wolfsohn was encouraged by the range and expressiveness of his own voice, resulting from the vocal exercises and techniques that he developed in an attempt to heal the symptoms of trauma sustained during the war, and began teaching others, acting as both a singing teacher and psychotherapist, seeking to combine the principles of both disciplines.[10][11]

Newham empathized with Wolfsohn's post-war trauma, having himself been traumatized by the sounds of violent arguing between his mother and Derek Newham while growing up. He therefore built upon and extended the endeavors begun at the Alfred Wolfsohn Voice Research Centre aligning it with cognitive and psychophysiological principles, alleging that vocalizing might have therapeutic benefits by means comparable to the expressive therapies, including drama therapy and music therapy.[12][13][14][15][16]

Newham began applying his research while teaching severely disabled young adults, many of whom could not articulate vocal sounds into intelligible speech. By musicalizing their voices, and producing devised theatre productions in which his clients performed vocally but not verbally, Newham was able to facilitate their experience of communicating to an audience through voice.[17][18] Newham subsequently began working with those who were not physically disabled, but suffered from various forms of psychological pain that they experienced as being beyond words. During this period, Newham's work was aligned to the principles and practices of active music therapy, by which patients or participants produce and perform musical compositions, with instruments and voice.[19][20][21][22][23]

Later Work in Receptive TherapyEdit

Listening to sound in audio therapy.

While researching the background to the Alfred Wolfsohn Voice Research Centre, Newham met and subsequently collaborated with the British author, archivist, and curator Leslie Shepard, to produce a monograph on the life and work of the German teacher.[24][25]

In addition to documenting the work undertaken at the Alfred Wolfsohn Voice Research Centre, through film, sound recordings, and written diaries, until the founder's death in 1962, Shepard also collected thousands of documents and audio recordings relating to indigenous forms of music, meditation, prayer, and contemplative practices.[26]

Shepard's collection inspired Newham to consider the way in which different forms of recorded acoustic stimuli, including spoken word, music, and ambient sound, might effect a listener, potentially precipitating a range of responses including relaxation, hypnagogia, and experiences comparable to those reportedly achieved through meditation. During this period, Newham's work was aligned with the principles of receptive music therapy, by which patients or participants listen to live or recorded musical compositions, and subsequently describe their responses to the facilitating music therapist.[27][28]

Influence and ContributionsEdit

Expressive TherapyEdit

In addition to his work in the field of music therapy,[29][30][31][32][33] Newham has contributed to the theories and applications of other expressive therapies, including drama therapy and dance movement therapy.[34] Newham's contribution to drama therapy derives from his study of possible selves, and the development of techniques by which inner voices might be vocalized with intent to interpret their significance.[35][36][37] Newham alleges that the voice is one of the means by which a person establishes and maintains a self-image, proposing that the acoustic characteristics of a person's voice contributes to his or her personal identity.[38][39][40][41] Additionally, Newham's work facilitates the expression of emotion through dramatic speech as well as vocal music.[42][43][44][45][46] This work has been compared to the vocal experiments conducted by Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski, which aims to free the psychological and physical inhibitors of vocal expression.[47][48][49] Meanwhile, Newham's investigations into the relationship between vocal and bodily expression have contributed to dance movement therapy by introducing vocal sound as a means of expression parallel to physical movement.[50][51][52][53]

Receptive TherapyEdit

Newham's contribution to receptive therapy derives from applying the principles of neuroacosutics, which studies neural correlates to the perception and cognition of sound, speech, and music in animals,[54][55][56] to the field of audio therapy, which makes clinical use of recorded sound, music, or spoken words, or a combination thereof, to which the recipient listens with intent to experience a subsequent beneficial physiological, psychological, or social effect. Audio therapy synthesises elements from a number of discreet areas of research and practice, including receptive music therapy, bibliotherapy, creative visualization, guided imagery, guided meditation, sound healing, and cognitive behavioral therapy.[57][58][59][60] Newham's interpretations of the relationship between listening to sound and contemplative and reflective practices have been appropriated into reflective practice, spiritual direction, and esoteric studies.[61][62][63][64] Newham has composed and recorded a number of pieces that seek to demonstrate the effect that music generally, and the human voice specifically, has on a listener, including the score for the production House of Bones, produced by Motionhouse, about 'the plight of the scapegoat and those isolated by prejudice, ignorance and difference'.[65][66]

Selected publicationsEdit


Newham, Paul (1999). Using Voice and Theatre in Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 978-1853025914.

Newham, Paul (1999). Using Voice and Movement in Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 978-1853025921.

Newham, Paul (1999). Using Voice and Song in Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 978-1853025907.

Newham, Paul (1998). Therapeutic Voicework. London: Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 978-1853023613.


Newham, Paul (1992). "Jung and Alfred Wolfsohn: Analytical psychology and the singing voice". Journal of analytical psychology. 37 (3): 323–336. doi:10.1111/j.1465-5922.1992.00323.x.

Newham, Paul (1992). "The psychology of voice and the founding of the Roy Hart theatre". New Theatre Quarterly. 9 (33): 59–65. doi:10.1017/S0266464X00007478.

Newham, Paul (1994). "Voice Movement Therapy: Towards an arts therapy for voice". Dramatherapy. 16 (2–3): 28–33. doi:10.1080/02630672.1994.9689382.

Newham, Paul (1995–96). "Making a song and dance: the musical voice of language". Journal of the Imagination in Learning. 3 (1): 66–74. ISSN 1071-6157.CS1 maint: date format (link)

Newham, Paul (1992). "Singing and psyche: towards voice movement therapy". Voice: Journal of the British Voice Association. 1 (1): 75–102.


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External linksEdit