What we share: International perspectives on music therapy research and clinical practice in autism

Monika Geretsegger (Speaker)

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


In this presentation, current applications of music therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are linked with recent developments in music therapy research. In doing so, the potential of sharing in the sense of exchange, commonalities, and collaboration is examined from different angles: What do our clients share with us? What is shared by music therapy practitioners and researchers within autism? How can we share and benefit from our professional experiences across national borders?
If we look at music therapy sessions for people with ASD, the therapist typically aims to foster the client’s relational skills by using musical material and therapeutic techniques that emerge from shared experiences within the therapeutic relationship and develop across the shared history of interaction. Whilst theoretical backgrounds, methods, and techniques of music therapy practice may vary across countries, a survey conducted this year showed that there is yet a “common ground” of basic principles shared by music therapists working with people affected by ASD around the globe.
The history of music therapy practice in the field of autism is long – amounting up to sixty years in some places –, and its effects on people with ASD have also been extensively researched upon. Findings have generally indicated favourable effects of music therapy on social interaction and communication abilities. However, often a gap is perceived between research and clinical practice done in this area, particularly since earlier studies were either methodologically weak so that generalisation was limited, or employed interventions that were difficult to translate to everyday practice. More recent studies included in an updated Cochrane review of music therapy for ASD featured higher methodological quality and also higher relevance to clinical practice in terms of therapy setting and treatment duration.
When it comes to sharing expertise across borders, collaborations drawing on international networks provide many opportunities to learn from each other. The TIME-A project, an ongoing RCT study connecting nine countries worldwide, provides such a framework: Responding to the need for more rigorously designed trials, this study investigates the effectiveness of improvisational music therapy to improve children’s abilities in core areas defining ASD, i.e. social interaction and communication.
In exploring and reflecting about sharing within our clinical work, within research collaborations, or in personal and written discussions with colleagues and those outside our community, we can develop both our field and our professional identity.
Period12 Oct 2013
Event title1er Congreso Iberoamericano de Investigación en Musicoterapia: Desenvolvimentos e atualizações em musicoterapia
Event typeConference
LocationLousada, Portugal