Case study: understanding the interaction of a primary school-aged girl with emotional and behavioural needs with a music therapy student
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As music therapy has become a well-known intervention in the field of working with children with additional special needs (ASN), it provides an evidence base for professionals and non professionals to understand the practice. However, the umbrella term of ‘ASN’ covers various categories and one of these, ‘emotional and behavioural needs’, is seldom explored in music therapy research. A review of the current literature finds only a few case studies in music therapy that focus on a child with emotional and behavioural needs. Thus, the following clinical case study explores the interaction between a school-aged girl with emotional and behavioural needs and a music therapy (MT) student. This study takes place in a mainstream school in Scotland and focuses on work with a ten-year-old girl with emotional and behavioural needs over the course of fifteen music therapy sessions. The aim is to explore what the client gains from interactions with a MT student by tracing any changes that occur over the sessions. This case study follows a qualitative methodology and uses interpretative phenomenological video analysis (IPVA) to analyse the collected data. The concluding discussion of this study focuses on changes in the client: the client’s choice of instruments and her musical and non-musical interactions with the MT student. It finds that the client presents her energy through music playing, dancing in the music therapy space and expressing herself within the therapeutic relationship. However, some limitations to the study become clear when attempting to explore correlations between the client’s nurturing experience and her emotional and behavioural needs. Therefore, this study concludes by encouraging further study of this client group in mainstream schools.