An Investigation of Music Therapists' Experiences of Verbal Dialogue in Music Therapy Sessions


music therapy
verbal dialogue
verbal processing
counselling skills

How to Cite

Nelligan, S., & McCaffrey, T. (2020). An Investigation of Music Therapists’ Experiences of Verbal Dialogue in Music Therapy Sessions. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(1).


This study presents a preliminary exploration of music therapists’ first-hand experiences of engaging in verbal dialogue with clients in their clinical practice. To the authors’ knowledge no previous studies have examined the role of verbal dialogue from the first-hand perspectives of experienced professionals working in the field.  Three individual interviews were conducted with three accredited Irish music therapists. Four central themes emerged as a result of thematic content analysis: content and function of verbal dialogue, the use of verbal dialogue may contribute to professional ambiguity, returning to the music, and the dyadic relationship between musical and verbal exchange. The findings revealed verbal dialogue to be a topic of interest for the participants in this study, one which stimulated meaningful reflections about clinical practice. The implications for professional identity and clinical practice which arose distinguished verbal dialogue as a potential area for further research and professional discourse within the wider music therapy community. Suggestions were made for additional areas of learning that may assist in preparing trainee and newly-qualified music therapists for potentially challenging verbal encounters with clients.

Copyright (c) 2020 Siobhán Nelligan, Tríona McCaffrey

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