Building Relationships in a Youth Justice Residence in Aotearoa New Zealand: Experiences of a Music Therapy Student
Using Action Research, I explored my experience as a music therapy student in the process of developing relationships in a Youth Justice Residence in Aotearoa New Zealand. I reviewed a body of literature on therapeutic relationships within arts therapies and broader therapeutic traditions, music therapy with at-risk-youth, and social-justice perspectives in music therapy. Data was generated by means of journals and supervision notes and was analysed using thematic analysis through three cycles of action research. All names of the young people were changed to protect their anonymity. Findings showed that building relationships in this context involved having knowledge about the context and the population, self-knowledge and reflexivity, an ability to work across difference, and shared music-making. While the research was primarily being undertaken to improve practice, student research can offer a valuable addition to the field of music therapy, which is a relatively new field that requires more research to fully understand its benefits and challenges in various contexts and with different populations. This study may support other practitioners in their own process of relationships building with youth-at-risk within the local context of Aotearoa New Zealand, and may illustrate strategies that support this within the context of youth justice residence, as well as barriers and challenges involved.