“It’s Not What’s Done, But Why It’s Done”


music therapy

How to Cite

Pickard, B., Thompson, G., Metell, M., Roginsky, E., & Elefant, C. (2020). “It’s Not What’s Done, But Why It’s Done”. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(3), 19. https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v20i3.3110


This position paper offers our personal reflections as five music therapists from varying social and international contexts attempting to understand and engage with the theory, politics and implications of the Neurodiversity Movement. We begin by positioning our views on the importance of the therapist’s intentionality when working with individuals for whom this social, cultural and political movement may represent central beliefs and values. The evolution of the Neurodiversity Movement is discussed, growing from the social model of disability and Disability Rights Movements to present a challenge to the dominant, medicalised model of disability. Throughout the paper, we invite critical debate around the role, position and attitude of the music therapist when working with neurodivergent participants, taking the powerful words of Autistic author and activist, Penni Winter, as our provocation. Finally, we offer our interpretation of key concepts and dimensions of this discourse, before sharing examples of how we might apply these understandings to tangible tenets of music therapy practice in different contexts through a series of brief composite case stories. Through critical reflection and discussion, we attempt to draw together the threads of these diverse narratives to challenge a normocentric position, and conclude by posing further questions for the reader and the wider music therapy profession.


Copyright (c) 2020 Beth Pickard, Grace Thompson, Maren Metell, Efrat Roginsky, Cochavit Elefant

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Articles published prior to 2019 are subject to the following license, see: https://voices.no/index.php/voices/copyright

Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.


Bergen Open Access Publishing