Peace Camp

Reflections on Community Music Therapy and Conflict Transformation




community music therapy; conflict transformation; peace and conflict studies; critical theory; youth in conflict; seeds of peace camp


Community Music Therapy (COMT) is a development increasingly referenced and often nebulous in the field of music therapy. Depending on its description in the literature, COMT seems to be situated between an aspiration to stretch beyond boundaries of the ‘consensus model’ and serve atypical populations, and a working practical approach with clear guidelines. Curiosity around this phenomenon inspired an initial inquiry by the author into potential theoretical underpinnings to provide context and definition for its aims, namely critical theory. Through identifying the links between CoMT, critical theory/psychology, and conflict transformation–the approach utilized in modern peacekeeping–the author hoped to inspire more intentional efforts by music therapists working at the convergence of those ideas. This research culminated in the author’s master’s thesis, a critical review and attempted integration of these topics, in 2018. This article aspires to build upon that research by remapping the knowledge gained onto the experiences that catalyzed the inquiry. Through vignettes and commentary, the author uses a reflexive, critical lens to examine his tenure as a music counselor at Seeds of Peace Camp, a conflict transformation camp. By re-examining trial-by-fire moments and their aftermath, the author identifies relevant research in the aforementioned fields that may have enhanced or explained participant responses. This serves to broaden the collective understanding of the overlapping goals and practices of CoMT, critical theory/psychology and conflict transformation.

Author Biography

Zein Hassanein, BuildaBridge International, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Zein Hassanein, MA, MT-BC, LPC (he/him) is a music therapist, clinical supervisor and educator, mental health counselor and arts activist living and working on the ancestral land of the Lenni-Lenape people of Turtle Island (contemporarily referenced as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA). He has presented in regional and local conferences on building authentic critical practice within oppressive institutions, and music therapy for SWANA punks. Currently, he works primarily within the inpatient psychiatric hospital setting with adults experiencing acute mental health crisis and/or addiction, but has experience working across the lifespan both within and outside of healthcare spaces. Zein also works as a teaching artist for therapeutic art-making nonprofit BuildaBridge International. He is an organizing member of the SWANA Music Therapy Alliance, an affinity group for SWANA-identifying music therapists.

Photo of author Zein Hassanein




How to Cite

Hassanein, Z. (2023). Peace Camp: Reflections on Community Music Therapy and Conflict Transformation. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 23(1).



Reflections on Practice