Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Kelvin A. Ramirez, PhD., ATR-BC, LCAT


This paper reviews current literature surrounding therapeutic work done with the migrant population and considers it through the lens of future music therapy interventions to be done at the United States (US)-Mexico border. The migration process across the US-Mexico border is often filled with danger and treachery, leading to trauma responses, such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder. These traumatic experiences are augmented even further if there is a detention period or separation of families. In work reported by psychotherapists, counselors, and expressive arts therapists, there is often a focus of building empowerment, resilience, and coping skills. Yet in this work, there is also a disparity of power, often situating the migrant participants as victims of their circumstances without giving voice to other unique labels that may lie within the population. Within the music therapy field, there is concern in the literature that cultural competency is not being met, with most music experiences often using improvisation still based in Western music as opposed to culturally specific music trends. Through the research, these gaps are identified and a loose framework for future music therapy interventions is introduced. The hope of this research is that clinicians will consider their work and their findings through a more culturally-sensitive lens, working to empower the participants through other facets than just the experienced trauma. With this in mind, the field can advance its culturally humble practices in ways that then help our future clients with more competency, grace, and understanding.

Creative Commons License

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




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