Music-caring within the framework of early intervention: The lived experience of a group of mothers of young children with special needs, participating in a music therapy group

Valgerdur Jonsdottir

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Despite developments in the field of early intervention, and an increase in the variety of available services and number of specialists equipped to assist, the needs of caretakers of children with disabilities in times of crisis have not received enough attention. It seems that too often caretakers themselves get lost in the role given to them as their infants‟ best specialists, and in the emphasis which is placed on their children‟s developmental milestones. The caretakers and the potential psychological distress they experience having a disabled child are more often than not the forgotten component in the existing support and treatment schemes.
This focused the author‟s attention on the idea that parents of disabled children could benefit from music therapy. Thus a hermeneutic phenomenological research was designed which focused on the lived experience of a group of mothers of young children with special needs participating in a music therapy group introduced as music-caring. Seven mothers participated in the research. The central music-caring phase encompassed ten 90-minute to two-hour consecutive weekly sessions. Songwriting was used as a process and a central method of musicking in the group. The notion of music-caring and the mothers‟ lived experience of it was the focus of this study. Music-caring was initially defined as an empathetic and emotionally supportive relationship that an act of musicking brings into existence.
The empirical material consisted of one semi-structured group interview, one individual semi-structured interview with each mother, participant observations and artefacts. The mothers related their experience in the music-caring group to eight core categories: the group, musicking, songwriting, the CD, the therapist, me and my time, process-change, and the diary. In the empirical explorations the different themes in the core categories were discussed from the following perspectives: Stern‟s motherhood constellation, group dynamics and processes, the concept of empathy, positive psychology, play, and the helping relationship, developmentally-informed theories, musicking as defined by Small, the concepts of affordance and appropriation as presented by DeNora, theories on quality of life, reflection on music and emotion, emotional creativity, Yalom‟s notion of a structured exercise, Csikszentmihalyi‟s theory on flow, some speculations on the personal and the social self and the formation of self-identity, empowerment, and a common factors approach.
The mothers‟ experiences in the group supports the idea that musicking in a caring context can build empathetic and supportive relationships, which facilitates and deepens emotional expression, conducive to other empowerment type benefits.
Original languageDanish
Number of pages466
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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