"Music Therapy Helped Me Get Back Doing': Perspectives of Music Therapy Participants in Mental Health Services

Tríona McCaffrey
Jane Edwards


Background: Mental health service development internationally is increasingly informed by the collaborative ethos of recovery. Service user evaluation of experiences within music therapy programs allows new phenomena about participation in services to be revealed that might otherwise remain unnoticed. Objective: The aim of this study was to demonstrate how asking service users about their experience of music therapy can generate useful information, and to reflect upon the feedback elicited from such processes in order to gain a deeper understanding of how music therapy is received among service users in mental health. Methods: Six mental health service users described their experiences of music therapy in one or two individual interviews. Transcripts of interviews were analyzed using the procedures and techniques of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results: Interviews with mental health service users provided rich, in-depth accounts reflecting the complex nature of music therapy participation. Super-ordinate themes refer to the context in which music therapy was offered, the rich sound world of music in music therapy, the humanity of music therapy, and the strengths enhancing opportunities experienced by service users. Conclusions: Participants indicated that they each experienced music therapy in unique ways. Opinions about the value of music therapy were revealed through an interview process in which the researcher holds an open attitude, welcoming all narrative contributions respectfully. These findings can remind practitioners of the importance of closely tuning into the perspectives and understandings of those who have valuable expertise to share about their experience of music therapy services in mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)