Characteristics of staff interaction with music therapy in a forensic psychiatric setting : examining the clinical implications : a thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Music Therapy at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This study was conducted within a qualitative paradigm, using naturalistic inquiry as the methodology. The primary aim was to discover what sort of impact the attending staff member had on the dynamics of the group music therapy session, in a forensic psychiatric setting. The secondary aim was to establish the features of the interaction between staff and music therapy. Themes of the above two aims were collated to form a template of clinical considerations for the music therapist working with staff in a forensic psychiatric setting. Three male forensic clients participated in five group music therapy sessions. These were co-facilitated by the researcher and a co-music therapy student (CMTS). In addition, six staff members, employed at the research location, were interviewed in order to ascertain their understanding of the staff member's role in the music therapy session and what role they perceived music therapy assuming in a forensic psychiatric setting. Descriptive notes were collected from the video footage ofthe group music therapy sessions and interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data analysis involved the use of non-cross sectional data organisation. Summaries of the clinical work and results from the interviews indicate that the attending staff member has a strong influence on the interplay and dynamics of the group. Both negative and positive influences surfaced. Education of staff members about music therapy processes and the role of staff members are essential aspects of clinical practice in this setting. Education regarding the above factors reduces anxiety for staff members participating, encourages support of the program, and ensures staff members engage in a way that assists with the therapeutic process. Finally, the study indicates that communication and dissemination of the clinical work with staff is demanded outside of the music therapy space in order for the music therapy program to successfully meet client needs in a forensic psychiatric setting.
Music therapy, Forensic psychiatry