Exploring the Influence of Interdisciplinary Clinicians' Perceptions of Music Therapy on Referrals in a Youth Mental Health Service


Cherry Hense


The Australian Journal of Music Therapy




Music therapy is ideally positioned to meet the age appropriate and stigma-free approach of youth mental health services, yet programmes are distinctly lacking. Music therapists report challenges in establishing and maintaining programmes that rely on referrals from interdisciplinary teams, and clinicians’ perceptions of music therapy may be key to understanding these barriers. The aim of this study was to explore how clinicians’ perceptions of music therapy in a youth mental health service may impact referrals, and whether specific strategies for promoting music therapy could be identified. A survey was distributed to clinicians at a youth mental health service with an established music therapy programme, and data were analysed using inductive methods informed by grounded theory. Findings illustrate how strengths-based views of music therapy and a willingness to discuss music in relation to mental health with young people was linked to higher rates of referral to the music therapy service. Clinicians acted as gate keepers by introducing or failing to raise discussion of music and music therapy options in young people’s care. Promoting a strength-based view of music therapy that aligns with recovery approaches in mental health care may support the implementation of music therapy programmes. Highlighting clinicians’ role as gatekeepers and supporting their capacity to engage young people in initial discussions of music may increase referrals, raise awareness about the role of music in young people’s mental health and facilitate key engagement processes.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adolescents; Mental Health; Music Therapy; Young Adults

Indexed Terms

Psychiatry; Children & youth; Therapists; Problems; Studies; Mental health care; Health services; Interdisciplinary aspects; Mental disorders

Study Type

Grounded Theory Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type