“Wait, will this give me blisters?” – Music therapy assessment with a boy in a mainstream primary school
This case study explored the music therapy assessment journey for a care-experienced 11-year-old boy with a background of interpersonal trauma and neglect. The study aimed to explore what music therapy offered him and how the Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD) framework (2005) could be used to understand the therapeutic process. Within the literature review, I explore the impact that early interpersonal trauma and neglect have on a child’s future emotional and psychosocial development, focussing specifically on the developmental trauma literature. I then discuss the importance of providing therapeutic interventions in schools and provide an overview of the role that creative arts therapies, in particular music therapy, can have for children with developmental trauma disorder. Through the thematic analysis of my process notes, I generated six sub-themes that I integrated within the three themes from the DTD framework. These sub-themes included the client’s curiosity and ability to use the space; music therapy as a facilitating environment; projection and splitting; rupture and repair; integrating hope and despair and creativity and resilience. These findings were discussed with reference to examples from the data, and in relation to relevant theory. Despite the limited number of sessions explored in this case study and the likely influence that the developmental trauma literature had on the analysis process, this case study contributes to the limited literature exploring what music therapy can offer children with developmental trauma, and it also offers a detailed exploration of a music therapy assessment process within a mainstream primary school setting.