Date of Award

Winter 2-25-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Second Advisor

Michele Forinash

Third Advisor

Laura Beer


This phenomenological research explored previous personal therapy (PT) experiences of East Asian music therapists during their training in the US. The study focused on examining the meaning of being therapy clients while they were music therapy students, and discovering the influence of PT on their personal, clinical, and musical development during and after the training. In addition, two different cultural influences on the therapeutic process were examined. Eight music therapists from Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan participated in this study. The length of their PT experiences ranged from six to 24 months. The participants’ therapists were Asians who immigrated to America European, who immigrated to America American, or Americans of non-Asian heritage. Participants completed basic questionnaires and then took part in in-depth interviews. The NVivo 10 computer program was employed to organize and analyze the interview data. Member checking and peer debriefing functioned to support the credibility of the data analysis. Throughout the coding process, 4 themes, 13 categories, and 20 subcategories emerged. The themes and categories were as follows: (a) Cultural experiences (Asian cultural experience, Western cultural experience, and cultural stigma attached to therapy) (b) Therapy experiences (therapy space, beginning stage, student therapists’ therapists, personal influences, clinical influences, academic influences, musical experience, and difficulties in therapy (c) After therapy (therapeutic application, and need for personal therapy of therapy of student music therapists). The results of the study reported that PT was one of significant resources for music therapy students’ personal and professional development. The rationale for integrating PT in student music therapists’ training has implications for music therapy educators and related mental health practitioners in East Asia. It is suggested that student music therapists consider PT as a catalyst for both personal and professional growth.

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