Cross-Cultural Music Therapy: Reflections Of Music Therapists Working Internationally

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Miranda Suzanne Grimmer (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Melody Schwantes Reid, PhD, MT-BC

Abstract: Research on cross-cultural music therapy is limited, yet with the increase of globalization, it is becoming more common for music therapists to work anywhere in the world and with diverse populations. By studying the lived experience ofmusic therapists from the United States working internationally, music therapists interested in working abroad may be able to better prepare for an international career. This phenomenological research asked how culture informs clinicalpractice, what strategies are helpful in working cross-culturally, and what are thebenefits and challenges of working outside of the clinician’s culture. Interviews were conducted with three American music therapists workingcross-culturally in Finland, New Zealand, and Singapore. Therapists were board certified professionals with six months to almost six years of experience. Results indicated three global meaning units including: a) In order for music therapy to be effective, the therapist must understand the impact of their individual culture and their client’s culture on the therapeutic relationship; b) The culturally competentmusic therapist needs to be able to listen empathically, communicate effectively,and truly understand the client; and c) No matter how challenging working internationally may be at times, the therapist will grow, change, and “no matter what, it’ll be worth it.” These discoveries point to three key features for the music therapist working internationally to consider. One is the interdependent relationship of music therapy and culture. Demonstrating that even though music therapy can reach acrosscultures, culture heavily influences the success of music therapy. Secondly, there will be both challenges and benefits of working in another culture. Thirdly, this research reflects the literature that there will be a period of experiencing culture shock and culture acclimation for the therapist. Limitations and recommendations for future research are also discussed.

Additional Information

Grimmer, M. (2016). Cross-Cultural Music Therapy: Reflections Of Music Therapists Working Internationally. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2016
Cross-Cultural Music Therapy, Music Therapy, Culture, International, Multicultural Music Therapy

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