Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


The purpose of this study was to explore the effectiveness of undergraduate academic and clinical training programs for music therapy in addressing the subject of personal growth, as it relates to the development of critical self-awareness and self-care strategies. The study further attempted to identify which self-care strategies are being used by practicing music therapy clinicians and how a practice of self-care impacts their work with distressed and/or traumatized individuals. An electronic survey sent to all board-certified music therapists (MT-BCs) (N = 6369) generated a demographic profile of music therapy practitioners who identified their clientele as distressed and/or traumatized. The survey doubled as a means to identify a sample population for participation in face-to-face interviews. These interviews disclosed the clinicians’ perception of the effectiveness of their educational programs in preparing them to work with trauma-informed populations. An arts-based response further provided qualitative information corroborating the interviews. An open-ended survey questionnaire sent to academic directors of AMTA approved program directors (N = 79), investigated whether curricula related to self-care was included. The results revealed that 63.83% of MT-BCs (bachelor, masters, and doctorate levels) identified their clientele as distressed and/or traumatized. Specifically, 45.03% were bachelor-level clinicians. Results of the survey questionnaire to academic program directors (n = 16; 20.25% responding) indicated that 50% did not include a dedicated unit on self-care in their curricula. Interviews with clinicians exposed that 37.5% graduated from either graduate or undergraduate programs where the topic of self-care was not addressed. A thematic analysis of interview data and mandala arts-based responses, generated five primary and secondary themes; the analysis further identified indicators of vicarious traumatization related to the work experience. A plethora of self-care strategies and practices were communicated throughout the interview and creative response. The results of the survey suggest that more emphasis related to self-care in music therapy academic and clinical training programs would serve to provide graduates with increased knowledge and resources regarding self-care, thereby enabling clinicians to mitigate or circumvent the potential professional risks associated with treating a distressed and/or traumatized clientele.

Number of Pages


Included in

Music Therapy Commons




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