Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


This community engagement project seeks to question established beliefs concerning the instruments used by music therapists in sessions through an exploration of their impact on therapist ability to interpersonally attune. In the field of music therapy, the competency instruments of piano, voice, guitar, and percussion are widely revered as the most beneficial for clients during active music making interventions. However, many music therapists come to the field with years of professional training on other instruments called principal instruments. Studies show that there is a disconnection between the benefit to clients of using a principal instrument and the frequency with which they are utilized in sessions. Through two stages of art-based research, a focus group of four advanced level music therapists and students, as well as this researcher, explore the quality of interpersonal attunement while improvising on each kind of instrument. For these participants, findings reveal that therapist training and relationship to the instrument in use have an impact on interpersonal attunement within the therapeutic relationship. These results can be taken into consideration for future development of music therapy curriculum, the music therapy competencies, and therapists who desire to use their principal instrument with clients.

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