From Researching the Queering Potential of Music Therapy to Queering Music Therapy: An Unexpected Journey
Keywords:critical examination of music therapy, challenging of norms, power imbalances in clinical practice, participatory research, arts-based research
In my article, I intend to trace the route from which the development and realization of an arts-based research project has led me. In this still ongoing project, I am aiming to explore in what way improvisation in music therapy fosters the emergence of ways of feeling and expressing that are excluded from hegemonic discourse and thus enables personal growth and development also in ways marginalized through certain societal norms. I started off with a theoretical concept merging psychoanalysis, queer theory, and music therapy theory and wanted to explore the specific potentials of musical action, which this concept entails. I chose an arts-based research style for this examination, as I intended not only to formulate and discuss these potentials,
but also to focus on how they are experienced by individuals. I felt that, if I am interested in direct experience, I had to involve research methods that induce this experience – merely talking or thinking about them would not bring me far in that respect.
As the project is still ongoing, I cannot provide a final presentation of results here. However, there is already one result which I want to make the main topic of this article. Unexpectedly, in the course of the project I not only dealt with queering in respect to contents, but queering was also a process in which I found myself. In this article, I will elaborate why and how this happened.
I will first outline the motivation and development of the research project. Next, I will focus on the theoretical framework: first from the work of Julia Kristeva (1984/1974) – particularly Kristeva’s conception of the subject as a sujet-en-procès (a subject-in-process) and the conception of different modes of meaning-making, and second from queer theory. Finally, I will elaborate on my personal experiences during the project which enabled me to critically examine music therapy in a way of ‘queering’ my understanding of music therapy.
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