Mexican American Values and Therapeutic Alliance in Music Therapy

Composite Vignettes from the Rio Grande Valley




Mexican American; therapeutic alliance; music therapy; rapport; Rio Grande Valley


The process of building rapport with clients varies across cultures. There are roles, values, and social expectations that music therapists must be aware of to establish a meaningful therapeutic alliance. As music therapy becomes more accessible along the Texas-Mexico border, we must consider how cultural values present in this community may impact therapeutic alliance with clients and families. The purpose of this article is to describe how familismo, confianza and personalismo values have been observed in the context of music therapy in this Mexican American community and how they have shaped both the therapeutic relationship and the role of a music therapist. Through two composite vignettes, this article seeks to (1) recognize the cultural and psychosocial needs of this
community; (2) initiate discourse for a culture-centered framework of music therapy practice in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas regions; and (3) provide clinical considerations for building therapeutic rapport with clients in this community.

Author Biography

Marisa Deleon, RGV Music Therapy and Wellness Center, Rio Grande Valley, Texas, USA; Music Therapy Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA

Marisa de León, MS, MT-BC is a music therapist in the Rio Grande Valley. She is the founder and clinical director of RGV Music Therapy and Wellness Center, a private practice specializing in culturally informed music therapy along the southernmost region of the Texas-Mexico border. She received her undergraduate degree in music therapy at Texas Woman’s University and a Master’s degree in health care administration at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley. She is currently pursuing graduate studies at Temple University and is passionate about music therapy in Mexican American communities. While in private practice, Marisa works with clients of diverse clinical backgrounds across South Texas.

Photo of author Marisa de León holding a guitar




How to Cite

Deleon, M. (2023). Mexican American Values and Therapeutic Alliance in Music Therapy: Composite Vignettes from the Rio Grande Valley. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 23(3).



Reflections on Practice