Date of Award

Winter 2-25-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Michele Forinash

Second Advisor

Jason Butler

Third Advisor

Melita Belgrave


This mixed-methods study examined music therapists’ experiences with, education regarding, and attitudes about music therapy with people who have multiple intersectional cultural perspectives. In the first phase, a survey created by the researcher was used to gathered information about participants’ (n = 474) education, training, attitudes, and skills regarding culture. In the second phase, 7 individuals were interviewed to learn about their experiences regarding multicultural education.

Survey data was analyzed to compare the attitudes/skills of participants. On average, participants were more confident in their ability to work with adults and people with disability than they were in their ability to work with children and adolescents. Participants were least confident in their ability to work with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ), or people whose religion or language was different than their own. Scores on some attitudes and skills differed among participants according to demographic factors: those who identified as bisexual, non-binary gender, a person of color, an educator, or as having graduated in the past 10 years, indicated significantly greater skills and/or cultural awareness on several measures. On all items, scores were higher for those who held a master’s degree than for those who only held a bachelor’s degree.

Qualitative analysis of the interviews revealed participants’ concerns regarding a lack of research about how to teach about cultural perspectives in music therapy; a Eurocentric approach that minimizes, whitewashes, or erases non-White experiences; a question of whether the topic can be adequately addressed in the undergraduate curriculum; and the silencing or marginalizing of minority experiences within the field. Many participants expressed the need to increase music therapists’ understanding of cultural humility, and to include a greater diversity of voices framing the conversation about diversity and inclusion. One participant’s interview was analyzed with respect to White fragility. Several participants stated that although there is still work to be done, the field of music therapy is moving in the right direction with respect to multicultural orientations. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed and future research is suggested.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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