Intercultural music therapy with children with English as an additional language in special schools

Anderson, Caroline (2019) Intercultural music therapy with children with English as an additional language in special schools. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

Accepted Version
Available under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (14MB) | Preview


This exploratory study asks what factors a music therapist needs to consider when working with a child whose cultural background differs from their own. Our cultural background and worldview influence many aspects of our lives and those of the people we work with, and yet there is little music therapy research that examines the impact of cultural difference on music therapy practice, or research in which the voices of participants are heard. This is especially important given that the music therapy profession worldwide shows an underrepresentation of minority ethnic groups, as music therapists are often drawn from privileged, majority groups. This means music therapists are less likely to have lived minority experience, and be less able to practise with cultural empathy. Qualitative methods were employed to examine three main sources of data: a review of music therapy literature, eight case studies of children who participated in music therapy in two special schools and eight parent interviews analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. All the children included in the study came from families where English was not the first language spoken at home. They were referred for music therapy following the usual criteria in their school. Their parents attended some or all of their child’s music therapy sessions and subsequently answered questions via semi-structured interviews relating to their home life, use of music and language, and their experiences of the music therapy sessions. The themes that arose from the three sources of data: the interviews, the case studies and the literature review, were triangulated to address the research questions. The main themes coming out of this study include the importance of music therapists acknowledging their own cultural influences, the various forms of discrimination encountered by minority ethnic groups from professionals and institutions, the value of collaborative approaches with parents in music therapy and in research, and the importance of acknowledging cultural identity and cultural factors but at the same time avoiding making cultural assumptions. Developments in intercultural practice such as cultural empathy, cultural competence and cultural safety were explored, as well as implications from the study for future research and training.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Intercultural music therapy, music therapy with children with special needs, music therapy with families, intercultural parent interviews
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2021 12:58
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:54

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item