Thesis submission ID 94 | created | last updated

Alison Ledger, Am I a founder or am I a fraud? Music therapists’ experiences of developing services in healthcare organizations
PhD, University of Limerick, 2010

Supervisor(s): Professor Jane Edwards
Repository (online):

General specialism: Music Therapy
Key terms, concepts: Music Therapy, Narrative Analysis, Healthcare settings, Service Development

Developing new services is a commonplace responsibility for music therapists worldwide. Starting a job often entails being the first music therapist in a facility, and even the first music therapist many staff and clients will ever have met. To date, little research and reflection is available about the challenges that arise when music therapy is introduced in an established healthcare team. This study was therefore founded with three main aims: 1) to learn more about music therapists’ experiences of developing new services in healthcare organizations, 2) to uncover some effective strategies for introducing and establishing new music therapy services, and 3) to further explore the contribution of qualitative research approaches to understand facets of music therapy service development. Narrative inquiry, arts-based research, and ethnographic fieldwork were employed to reflect on the experiences of twelve experienced music therapists from Australia, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Findings from this novel combination of methods indicate that the processes of music therapy service development are complex. Music therapy respondents conveyed strong feelings of isolation, insecurity, and uncertainty in relation to their service development experiences, but also showed passion and commitment to their development work. Their experiences also indicated that service development may take time and can be influenced by a range of contextual factors. Additionally, music therapists enter a series of complicated interprofessional interactions and negotiations when they introduce music therapy to an established healthcare team. Respondents recounted challenges similar to those that others have documented in developing new healthcare professions, such as role ambiguity and resistance from other workers. The lens of management and organizational theory was found to be useful in reflecting on some facets of these experiences. The outcomes are applicable for music therapy students, clinicians, and university educators, in furthering our understanding of music therapy service development. Further interdisciplinary research and dialogue will lead to greater knowledge about relatively hidden issues in music therapy professional life.
Thesis submission ID 94