Music as the Medicine of Trauma among Refugees in Arizona



How to Cite

Muriithi, B. (2020). Music as the Medicine of Trauma among Refugees in Arizona. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(2).


This paper presents outcomes of a phenomenological study conducted to explore the lived experience of refugee musicians. Purposive and snowball sampling methods were used to identify six musicians who performed in the cities of Phoenix and Tucson and had been involved in music prior to entering the United States. The primary data gathering method was structured and unstructured interviews, but observations were made for the musicians who performed in public events during the study period. Audio and video recordings were made and photographs taken during these performances. Study outcomes show that the musicians have persisted in music performance as their primary method of healing trauma and negative emotions. Traumatic experience resulted in their fleeing from their homes and seeking refuge in other countries. After being resettled in the United States, they continue to suffer from the experience of loss, need to adapt and change, and struggle with trauma and negative emotions. Music is their method of healing trauma and facilitating integration. Music produces healing through 1) like a painkiller, enabling them to forget problems that result in distress, 2) being their means to communicate a message of hope, and 3) enabling integration, thus reducing isolation and loneliness.

Copyright (c) 2020 Bernard Austin Kigunda Muriithi

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