• Charlotte Knygberg Christensen
4. term, Music Therapy, Master (Master Programme)

As part of the music therapy master’s program at Aalborg University, Denmark, during the 9th semester I completed an internship of practical training in music therapy. The internship took place at a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in a Danish hospital and the music therapy was carried out with parents of hospitalized infants, away from their children. The internship is the outset of this master’s thesis.
Since music therapy started being practiced at NICUs around the world focus has been on how it affects the hospitalized infants. More recent music therapy research has taken the parents of the infants into the music therapy and shown how it also affects the levels of for instance maternal anxiety, depression, and parental stress. There is yet few studies where music therapy is focused on the parents alone. The purpose of this study is to investigate this field of music therapy. Therefore, this master’s thesis aims to explore:
How can music therapy be described and understood as support for parents of hospitalized infants in the NICU? What kind of challenges are expressed by parents during the music therapy? And how music therapy can be seen as support during the current situation for these parents?
The inquiry is carried out as a phenomenological and hermeneutic multiple case study of how voice work, instrumental improvisation and music listening in music therapy is experienced by parents during the hospitalization. Data collection is made during the internship and three different cases are selected for this study. These three cases represent three different types of music therapy methods: re-creative methods, improvisatory methods, and receptive methods, where voice work, instrumental improvisation and music listening is the represented variations. Data is analyzed through description, transcription, and thematic coding of 2-3 selected video recordings from music therapy with the parents, and a model of how music therapy can be understood as support for the parents is developed through the analysis.
The results show that there is a range of possibilities for the use of music therapy as support for parents alone. The model developed through the analysis suggests three forms of therapeutic rooms that can evolve in music therapy. The suggestion is that music in the re-creative room serves as regulation of arousal; in the creative room, provides possibility for expression and musical interaction and in the projective room, symbolizes and mirrors the experience and feelings linked to the hospitalization.
In relation to this the conclusion is that music therapy can be seen as essential support for parents in facilitating arousal regulation, promoting feelings of joy and energy, and containing difficult and mixed feeling during the hospitalization, or simply serve as a needed break from the situation in the NICU.

Christensen, C. (2021). Music Therapy as Support for Parents in the NICU. [Unpublished Master’s Thesis]. Aalborg University.

Keywords: Parents, neonatal, NICU, music therapy, support, re-creative methods, improvisatory methods, receptive methods, NICU-MT
Publication date10 Sept 2021
Number of pages79
ID: 439794993