Music Therapy with Children and Parents: Toward an Ecological Attitude

Flower, Claire. 2019. Music Therapy with Children and Parents: Toward an Ecological Attitude. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Since 2000 there has been significant growth in music therapy with children and parents. Empirical studies have primarily investigated outcomes associated with parental participation. Less literature addresses the processes through which therapy is enacted.

The practice-led study is situated in a Child Development Service within the UK state-funded healthcare system. Within the music therapy service, and more widely across the profession, parental attendance has increased in recent years, challenging conventional frames of practice and theory. This study investigates the enactment of music therapy with a child and parent in relation to everyday practice, organisational and professional structures.

The research consists of two interlinked, phenomenologically-informed studies. A preliminary study explores a single case of child, parent, and therapist, investigating experiences of those within it and musical-social processes. It uses a hybrid methodology of interviews and video microanalysis. The second main study, investigates the broader meshwork of people, places, events, and expertise through which music therapy with a child and parent is enacted. It employs focus groups with parents, music therapists, and healthcare staff. Methods drawn respectively from Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis and Grounded Theory are used.

The findings of the preliminary study suggest that music therapy with a child and parent appears through emergent, complex activity and interactivity between participants. It is characterised by a permeability of traditional music therapy boundaries. The main study further reveals the musicing of child and parent in everyday life and the various forms of expertise through which this appears.

The thesis argues for a radical realignment of practice, away from a conventional dyadic perception of music therapy. It proposes an ecological attitude by which music therapy is understood as a meshwork of interweaving lines of musicing, expertise, and emergence, within and beyond the therapy room. Implications for practice, theory, and research are drawn from this realignment.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Music therapy, children, ecological, parents, phenomenology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)


28 February 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

01 Apr 2019 11:12

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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