A Survey Exploring the Current State of Censorship in Adult Psychiatric Music Therapy Practice


Music Therapy Perspectives




The purpose of this study was to investigate current censorship practices and beliefs of music therapists working in adult mental health settings. The research questions included: (a) What music, or elements of music, do music therapists censor during music therapy sessions? (b) If music therapists censor, what are their reasons for censoring? The participants for this study were board-certified music therapists (N = 42) who completed an online survey investigating their current censorship practices. Censorship in music therapy practice was broadly defined as music therapists refraining from using or redirecting clients away from using certain lyrics, themes, songs, or genres of music before (i.e., therapist planning), during (i.e., therapist facilitating), and/or after (i.e., censoring clients’ music or verbalizations after they have been stated) expression. The majority of respondents (78.57%) censor at least one musical element, including themes (69.05%), lyrics (66.67%), and genres (16.67%). Reasons for censorship revolved around issues with treatment, including other group members’ responses, client comfortableness, emotional distress, self-esteem, and negative impact on the therapeutic relationship. However, approximately 25% reported that personal beliefs affected censorship, such as their comfort with the content, religious beliefs, and believing the client cannot benefit in any way from hearing the music. Further research needs to be conducted on the impact of lyrics, themes, and genres on client outcomes and the effect of censorship on the therapeutic relationship in music therapy practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Distress; Healthcare Professionals; Mental Health; Mental Health Setting; Music Therapy

Indexed Terms

adult psychiatry; music therapy practice; censorship; mental health; Psychiatry

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type


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