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Establishing an understanding of group dynamics and process within single-session music therapy groups open to both adolescents with mental illness and mental health staff : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Music Therapy at the New Zealand School of Music, Wellington, New Zealand
The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of group dynamics and process within single-session music therapy groups open to both adolescents and mental health staff. The study investigated factors that influenced group dynamics; how existing understandings of group process were evidenced within the sessions and how the groups could best be facilitated. A qualitative, exploratory method was used. Secondary analysis of clinical data from seven group music therapy sessions was carried out. A process of thematic analysis was applied to the narrative data and recordings of group improvisations were analysed using an adapted version of the Music Therapy Group Improvisation Analysis Model (MTGI-AM). It was found that developmental group process was evident within single sessions of music therapy. For example, a process of moving from disconnection, to establishing common ground, developing musical cohesion, then taking risks and negotiating closure, was audible within group improvisations. Group dynamics were affected by the physical environment and wider institutional contexts; by the leadership styles and structures implemented; the contributions of group members; the quality of existing and emerging connections between individuals; and aspects of the individuals themselves. The structure of music provided stability, mediated energy levels and presented opportunities for individuals to develop leadership and autonomy. Groups became more autonomous and took more risks as musical and interpersonal cohesion was established.