Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


The purpose of this sequential mixed method investigation was to discern the personal attributes that a music therapist employs to engender therapeutic relationships with children and to begin ascertaining the music therapy profession’s attempts to foster these qualities in music therapy students. The overarching goals of this dissertation were to identify aspects of relationship-building that go beyond skills, techniques, and theoretic orientation and to open a discussion about how to best address training of the person of the music therapist. The Phase One phenomenological inquiry consisted of thematic cross-comparison of in-depth interviews with five highly experienced children’s music therapists. Results revealed strong participant agreement about essential personal attributes and relationship-building aptitude which centered on personal qualities, relational abilities, cognitive abilities, and the music. These findings then served as the basis for the Phase Two quantitative survey of 119 music therapy educators and clinical trainers which sought to corroborate the Phase One results and investigate whether and how these abilities were currently being addressed within music therapy education and training. Results indicated >90% overall agreement with the delineated attributes and relational abilities among survey participants. Strong consensus was also evidenced in relation to the importance of possessing these abilities and belief that personal attributes and relationship building skills were currently being addressed within student training. Modeling, discussion, and role playing were overwhelmingly cited as the preferred teaching strategies and music therapy methods courses and clinical practica were indicated as predominant instructional milieu for addressing personal attributes. Survey responses also demonstrated near unanimous agreement that, though difficult, these abilities can be trained. However, discrepancy between educator perceptions of efficacy and reported student response, a lack of emphasis on personal qualities within mandated educational competencies, disagreement between educators and clinical trainers about where in the training curriculum these qualities should be addressed, and potentially inadequate teaching strategies make questionable the participant perception that personal attributes are being adequately addressed. Discussion of the overall results, limiting factors, and implications for further research were presented.

Number of Pages


Included in

Music Therapy Commons




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