Musical Progress Towards Therapeutic Change: A Qualitative Study on How to Develop a Focus in Music Therapy

Karin Mössler
Katharina Fuchs


By sharing and shaping a common focus through music, music therapy clients in mental health care involve themselves in a therapeutic process which is not necessarily bound to verbal language. Supplementing previous research showing that even clients with a low therapy motivation can benefit from music therapy, this study concentrates on how a therapy focus can develop in a client population that is often hard to reach by verbal approaches. Based on the assumption that our clients’ implicit ideas of favourable changes inform their way to use music, we examined how music-related activities addressed in music therapy might depict underlying processes of therapeutic changes. A qualitative content analysis was conducted utilising session logs from 23 music therapy clients. Three session logs (one each from the beginning, middle and end) were analysed for each participant using both structured and latent coding strategies. Findings suggest that music-related activities reflect the client’s responsiveness towards her/his own inner world and those of others. To the therapist, this shows a certain quality of the therapeutic encounter which can be divided into seven levels: the encounter in music therapy offers space for acceptance, provides orientation, allows contact, creates confidence, promotes expression, supports abstraction and enables transformation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)