An exploration of the opportunities and challenges of online music therapy with a person suffering from dementia
This research presents a case study of individual music therapy with a client suffering from dementia which took place online. Online music therapy is becoming more prevalent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as it provides a viable way to practice music therapy safely with clients who are particularly at risk. Online music therapy is delivered through digital platforms like Microsoft Teams or Near Me and provides video and audio for both client and therapist. The novelty of this therapeutic setting presents an entirely new set of considerations for Music Therapists to explore with their clients, however, research into this area has so far been lacking. In this study I use interpretative Phenomenological Video Analysis (IPVA) and Microanalysis to analyse video recordings of my online sessions to understand more about the opportunities and challenges which occur when working online with a client who has dementia. The main conclusions of this study outline how I provided a safe therapeutic space when working online through establishing a holding environment; how I utilised affect attunement as a means of communicating with my client online; and how the use of online music therapy presented unique opportunities for engaging with the client’s family and carers in their home. This study confirms that online music therapy with someone suffering from dementia can be beneficial when used thoughtfully and appropriately.