Exploring the use of musical preferences in music therapy with adolescents during the assessment phase within a mainstream secondary school: A multiple-case study
This multiple-case study explores the ways three young people engaged with their musical preferences in music therapy during the initial six-week assessment phase and explores the ways musical preferences contributed to the therapeutic relationship. The role of music in the lives of adolescents is frequently highlighted in various studies and contexts, yet the role of musical preferences in individual music therapy within a mainstream secondary school requires further investigation. Examination of the current literature shows that there are multiple ways that musical preferences can be part of the therapeutic process depending on the music therapist’s approach, interventions or techniques, especially in group work. However, the role of adolescents’ preferred music in individual music therapy sessions and the therapeutic value of the potential use of their preferred music through their own devices or playlists have not been thoroughly explored. The study aimed to investigate how adolescents engaged with their preferred music and what the use of musical preferences offered in the therapeutic relationship. Data was analysed through thematic analysis of the process notes, underpinned by a hermeneutic phenomenology framework and findings were presented within a multiple-case study. The themes and subthemes that emerged from the findings indicate that the use of preferred music can contribute to establishing connectedness, musical engagement and sharing within a potential space where young people further expand their musicality, social skills and self-expression. According to the cross-case analysis, the ways adolescents used their music in therapy differed, yet the way musical preferences contributed in facilitating a secure, potential space and further self-expression was similar among all cases. This multiple-case study highlights that the choice of adolescents to bring and share their music in music therapy within a mainstream secondary school can inform music therapy practice and this can strengthen the therapeutic relationship and enhance further aspects of self expression.