The Great Reveal: The Experiences of a Registered Music Therapist with a disability: an arts-based research project
Keywords:disability, disabled identity, lived experience, disclosure, music therapy, arts-based research
Disability is a human phenomenon experienced not by a small minority but a large percentage of our global population. Disability is encountered by people of all ethnicities, religions, genders (and non-conforming), sexualities, socio-economic backgrounds, and ages. Recent music therapy literature has advocated for a diverse workforce and others describe the value in music therapists adopting an intersectional lens, which considers the interconnectedness of social and political identities. However, there is limited dialogue featuring lived experiences of music therapists of underrepresented identities, such as disability. This research sought to canvass the experiences of Australian Registered Music Therapists who identify as having a disability and to explore how their disability may impact or inform their practice. One Australian Registered Music Therapist (RMT) who identified as disabled was interviewed. The student-researcher engaged with arts-based research through music composition to allow an embodied analysis and to present results in an accessible format. Several themes were revealed, including; hidden disability, disclosure of disability, alliance, positive transference, visibility, and identity. These findings demonstrate the importance of lived experiences in the music therapy community and calls to amplify diverse voices of those with disabilities and other intersecting identities within our profession. Acknowledging the work of disabled music therapists may further challenge ableist attitudes in our society and provide options to participants who might prefer to work with therapists who have relevant lived experience.
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