Music therapy consultation in Australian schools: Centring teacher experience

  • Presentasjon av forsking
  • 12.45-13.15, Seminarrom E

Drawing on research in Australian schools, this presentation will explore the experience of teachers as “users” in the context of school-based music therapy programs. Efforts to establish a role for music therapy in mainstream education have seen a move beyond student-only focused programs, and a shift towards integrating theory and practice into school systems (Rickson & McFerran, 2014). This is largely characterised by a rise in music therapy consultation or mentor models, where therapists work with teachers to develop their capacity for using music to support student wellbeing in their everyday teaching practice (Rickson, 2012). This shift towards consultation models, as a way to work within mainstream school settings in countries like Australia and New Zealand, means many therapists often spend more time face-to-face with staff than they do with students. Even though the ultimate goal of this work is to support student wellbeing, such approaches effectively reposition staff as the client or “user” of the music therapists’ services (Steele, Crooke, & McFerran, 2019). Not only is this distinction often absent from existing literature, but there is little to no research which explores and discusses teachers’ experiences as the “users” of such services. This presentation not only aims to make this distinction explicit, it will also use research to highlight teachers’ experiences and the challenges and assumptions around their participation. Specifically, findings from a three-year ethnographic study – which prioritised teachers’ lived experience of arts mentorship – will be used to illustrate personal and professional challenges teachers face engaging and implementing arts-based content in contemporary school settings. To initiate dialogue for potential ways forward, recommendations from the above research will be presented, as well as user-informed strategies as potential approaches to school-based music therapy programs.


  • Rickson, D. (2012). Music therapy school consultation: A unique practice. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 21(3), s. 268-285.
  • Rickson, D. & McFerran, K. S. (2014). Creating Music Cultures in the Schools: A Perspective from Community Music Therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
  • Steele, M., Crooke, A. H. D. & McFerran, K. S. (2019). What About the Teacher? A Critical Interpretive Synthesis on Literature Describing Music Therapist/Teacher Consultation in Schools. Submitted for publication.


  • Alexander Crooke, Postdoktor (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) ved Creative Arts Therapies Research Unit, University of Melbourne, Australia, 

Alexander Crooke holder foredraget på POLYFON-konferansen 2019