• Monika Popescu
4. term, Music Therapy, Master (Master Programme)
Aim: This qualitative single-case study seeks to investigate possible patterns and behaviors in improvisational music therapy (IMT) with a seven-year old boy with moderate autism, which could be described as autism-atypical, and to detect possible variables in the improvisational music therapy and in the therapist's actions that support the client's new behaviors, as well as discussing if those are signs of new skills creating new choices of action and coping mechanisms. In addition, this study aims to find answers to how those patterns and new communicative skills, displayed in the music and the client's behavior, can be interpreted in the light of the chosen theories, and to what extent they are signs for the music therapy’s (MT) ability to create new choices and coping mechanisms for the client.

Background: This master thesis is based on my 9th semester’s internship, which took place at a primary school in North Jutland, Denmark with special classes for children with neurodevelopmental conditions within the autism spectrum. My client was a highly verbal seven-year-old boy diagnosed with autism, with advanced motor skills, but lacking other age-appropriate competencies, in terms of contact, arousal regulation, and social play.

Method: To answer the research questions, a qualitative single case study, based on the hermeneutic and phenomenological approach of the interpretative method has been conducted. The clinical material including video recordings from eleven MT sessions has been analyzed with an ethnographic, descriptive, microanalysis approach.

Results: The results of the research show ‘atypical’ behavior of the client during MT, leading to new options of action. The identified patterns and new communicative skills detected in the music and in the client's behavior are a result of effective intervention with musical stimuli. Certain patterns in the client’s behavior have been altered and influenced in forming new patterns and behaviors as a result of resonance and synchronicity. The client acquired and displayed strong musical and emotional self-awareness and creative expression, he narrated the emotional qualities in music and in feelings, reflected on the impact of the musical emotions on others, and often initiated musical contact and play. This would suggest that IMT can mitigate impairments and draw from strengths. In addition, establishing a shared musical history with returning subjects, thus building a trusted relationship, enabled the client to explore new musical and emotional expressions and to engage in social interactions and play.

Keywords: Improvisational music therapy; autism spectrum; highly verbal; primary school child; neurodiversity.
Publication date31 May 2021
Number of pages73
ID: 413354899