Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

MCM - MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling


Expressive Therapies


Raquel Stephenson, Ph.D., ATR-BC, LCAT


Silence is essential for human connection, communication, and expression. This paper presents an inquiry into the experience of measurable moments of silences within music therapy with children on the autism spectrum: what happens directly after moments of silence preceded by sound, what might that indicate about the function of silences, and how they can be used therapeutically? Literature about silences within psychotherapy and music therapy suggests that silence can have multiple functions within therapy. Using both a specifically designed data sheet and anecdotal summaries, I documented silences within individual music therapy sessions with children ages 3-14 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at a private autism diagnosis and treatment center in the suburbs of a main New England city, then engaged in data review, writing and arts-based reflection. Through this process, I identified four themes: silences elicit client responses; responses to silences are unique to the context in which they occur; client-initiated silences can support a client’s awareness of self and autonomy; and music therapists, through their own self-awareness and reflection in the clinical moment, can uphold and utilize silences as profound spaces for therapeutic attunement and alignment towards client-centered goals.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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