An Autoethnographic Journey in Developing Post-Ableist Music Therapy
Photo of author Carolyn May Shaw


posthumanism, ableism, normalisation, agonism

How to Cite

Shaw, C. (2022). An Autoethnographic Journey in Developing Post-Ableist Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 22(1).


This paper describes my journey in developing Post-Ableist Music Therapy and offers vignettes of its use in practice. In the style of an autoethnography, it recounts the way I began actively to address the ableism that was uncovered during the analysis process of my PhD research: ‘Developing Post-Ableist Music Therapy: An autoethnography exploring the counterpoint of a therapist experiencing illness/disability’(Shaw, 2019). I set about developing an ethic for practice that would address ableism by using the Foucauldian tool of creating the self as a work of art. I engaged in a creative process as a way to defamiliarise and reconceptualise practice. Post-Ableist Music Therapy was developed and extended the relational ethic beyond what was present in the practice studied, by drawing on aspects of posthumanism (valuing interdependence; Braidotti, 2013), agonistic pluralism (Chambers, 2001Cloyes, 2002Mouffe, 2016), and increasing the incorporation of disability studies. Posthumanism was used as a foundation for PAMT (due to the ableist tendencies of humanism), which differs to current music therapy orientations. Therefore, PAMT is offered as an alternative lens in the critical orientations’ apparatus: a social justice practice that is not based on empowerment and humanism, but instead on agonism and posthumanism.

Copyright (c) 2022 Carolyn May Ayson

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