Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


John J. Cali School of Music

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Brian Abrams

Committee Member

Andrew Rossetti

Committee Member

Katie Van Loan


This phenomenological research study examined music therapists’ experiences with resistance as it occurred with patients in the context of inpatient psychiatric care in the New York City area.While there are many definitions of resistance in the previously published literature on the subject, participants were asked to recount their experiences of resistance without reference to a specific definition: their responses are based on an individual interpretation of the phenomenon.

While there are notable studies on music therapy and resistance, there have been few studies on resistance in the context of inpatient psychiatric care. The following research questions were addressed in this study:

When music therapists encounter resistance in the inpatient psychiatric setting, what is it like for them?

How do music therapists manage and utilize resistance in an inpatient psychiatric setting (musically and otherwise)?

The method that was employed to examine the therapists’ experience consisted of four in-depth interviews conducted in person by the researcher. All interviews were audio-recorded, and transcribed to text. The resulting transcriptions were then subjected to editing and cross-case analysis, in which the researcher coded the data and identified 23 emerging themes. An essential description of the phenomenon was drawn. Some examples of the findings were the therapists’ descriptions of encountering resistance, the ways that they worked with their resistant patients, and the outcomes that they attributed to their strategies.

The implications for the findings of this study may 1) provide students, music therapists, and clinicians in related fields with additional resources and insight into a process for effective music therapy practice, 2) inform students in these disciplines respective to clinical training, and 3) improve the quality of services to the clients who are served by music therapy and its related disciplines.

Included in

Music Therapy Commons