Music Therapy When Death Is Imminent: A Phenomenological Inquiry

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alexa Dorris (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Christine P. Leist, PhD, MT-BC

Abstract: This phenomenological inquiry examined the experiences of music therapists who provide music therapy services to clients whose death is imminent. Four experienced hospice music therapists participated in the study. Each engaged in a semi-structured interview focused on their experiences providing music therapy for clients who were actively dying. Ten emergent themes were grouped into four categories: ongoing assessment, intuitive processes, countertransference, and the role of aesthetics and transformation. Ongoing assessment using diverse sources and intuitive processes is crucial to making appropriate clinical decisions. Countertransference is a core element of the intimate nature of hospice music therapy. Finally, music therapy revealed aesthetic experiences that transformed experiences and facilitated transition. These findings point to a need for further discussion concerning assessment for clients who are not outwardly communicative as well as an inquiry into the role of aesthetics in hospice music therapy.

Additional Information

Dorris, K.A. (2015). Music therapy when death is imminent: A phenomenological inquiry. Unpublished master's thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2015
Music Therapy, Hospice, Countertransference, Aesthetics, Ongoing Assessment,

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