Moments of fun: Narratives of children’s experiences of music therapy in mental health care

Guro Parr Klyve
Randi Rolvsjord


Introduction Mental health issues in children involve complexities and life challenges for the child and their families. Music therapy as part of treatment in mental health care focuses on interaction and communication through music, with emphasis on the children’s resources. There is a small, but growing amount of research in the field of music therapy with children in mental health care. This qualitative study explored children’s own experiences of music therapy in mental health care at the hospital. This was done through a multiple case study design, including semi-structured interviews with seven children and participant observations. A narrative approach informed by “portraiture” was used in the analysis process in order to highlight non-dominant experiences and allow for multiple modalities in the analysis and in the presentation of findings. The children’s experiences were expressed through various modalities. These were displayed through narratives representing the core of the interview with each particular child. The word fun became a prominent emerging theme across the cases. In the children’s expressions, the word fun seemed to be a container of experiences, with rich variations and multiple meanings. Through a thorough attention to this word and the children’s actions before, after and while they spoke, multidimensional meanings of the word emerged. Through listening to the children’s own experiences, fun proved to be an essential part of music therapy in mental health care with children, not as mere entertainment, but as something of existential importance and with great therapeutic potentials.