A Qualitative Heuristic Inquiry into the Development of Therapeutic Presence as a Student Music Therapist


therapeutic presence
cognitive & embodied knowledge
heuristic research

How to Cite

Mc Guigan, N. (2020). A Qualitative Heuristic Inquiry into the Development of Therapeutic Presence as a Student Music Therapist. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v20i1.2586


This first-person study investigates the role of cognitive and embodied forms of knowledge in relation to the development of therapeutic presence as a student music therapist. In this paper, I will provide an introduction to the topic reviewing its relevance to the practice of music therapy, and I will argue that the development of therapeutic presence is a fundamental part of becoming a music therapist.  Although there are seminal articles in the music therapy literature that discuss the topic of therapeutic presence, I have not found any articles relating it to the development of being a student music therapist. Using heuristic methodology, I will describe the personal process of developing therapeutic presence as a student music therapist. To gain a broader perspective on the research topic, and to provide validation and transparency in relation to my personal heuristic process, three successive theoretical and experiential workshops were carried out with six student music therapists. Data, in the form of questionnaires, reflections and group musical improvisations were analysed systematically to validate my experience of the research topic, and also to discover and evaluate themes and practical methods. The research has culminated in the synthesis of data gathered during the study in relation to the main research question while also reviewing its relevance to music therapy practice and implications for further study.


Copyright (c) 2020 Niall Mc Guigan

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