• Mindaugas Dambrauskas
4. term, Music Therapy, Master (Master Programme)
As part of music therapy master study program at Aalborg University I had the chance to take a full-time internship at Bispebjerg hospital where I met over 20 individual patients in music therapy settings. I realized that, as music therapist, my experiences of meeting the clients were quite different when it comes to therapy engagement. I felt that I was more engaged and very much looking forward to work with some patients than with others. This led me to wonder whether other novice music therapists experienced the same lack or high level of engagement with their clients and what were the causes of such experiences.

This retrospective master thesis aims to explore the subjective experiences of novice music therapists (n=9) during their first full-time internship which is placed in the last year of their master education of music therapy at Aalborg University, Denmark. The study rises three research questions: 1) To what extent do novice music therapists experience engagement and lack of engagement respectively in their work with clients/participants/patients? 2) What are the factors that effects novice music therapist engagement and lack of engagement to work with the clients/participants/patients? 3) And how do novice music therapists experience those factors?
The research questions are going to be answered with mixed-method explanatory sequential research design. Both quantitative and qualitative data collection took place few months after end of the internship, first through an online survey (quant + qual) and then through focus group (qual). Quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive statistics whereas qualitative data of survey and focus group was analyzed with thematic coding. During the focus group art-based research method were implemented – musical improvisation and drawing, to expend the understanding of experiences. Therefore, this thesis suggests for naming the method as Music Therapy As Research.

The overall purpose of this study is to provide to the music therapy students and newly graduated a closer look at both the issues that they might have to/had to face, as well as the positive things they might experience in their first working experience as music therapists. All with educational purpose to make them aware of the factors that could effect their work satisfaction and not least their therapeutic relationship.

The result from the descriptive statistics shows that generally novice music therapists (n=9) experience engagement often in the work with their clients. However, they also experience lack of engagement rarely.
The factors that I found trough thematic coding related to lack of engagement were: Internship framework, interdisciplinary collaboration, client’s behavior, novice music therapist professionalism and their well-being. The factors that were related to experienced engagement were found to be the same, with one exception of internship framework, and adding one more factor such as therapeutic relationship. Based on data from focus group I found that novice music therapists experience those factors as intricately connected with each other. However, the findings show that music therapeutic relationship is experienced as a resource to overcome the other factors that cause lack of motivation.

Empirical based results rise a rich discussion in relation to therapeutic alliance theory (Hougaard, 2019), which appears to be pointing that therapist engagement is one of the components that is necessary for building therapeutic alliance. As well as the findings are compared with extensive research about psychotherapist development (Orlinsky & Rønnestad, 2005), were things in common were discussed.

The thesis perspective is that novice music therapists at Aalborg University need more tools for self-reflection after or during their internship, and training of collaborative skills in the interdisciplinary team of institutions.
Publication date31 May 2023
Number of pages78
ID: 532325572