Community Music Therapy: A Pathway to a Sense of Belonging in a School Environment
This research investigated the intersection between a student's work in a special school, where one of the primary aims was to develop students' sense of belonging, and Community Music Therapy (CoMT). A sense of belonging was understood to be a feeling of safety and comfort that engenders a willingness to engage with the environment and the people within that environment. Narratives of work with two students in the school have been analysed to uncover themes relating to CoMT, especially with regard to 'belonging'. Secondary analysis of the data was used in conjunction with a narrative enquiry. Data was collected using clinical music therapy notes; school documentation; Individual Education Plans; notes on group observations; notes on discussions with teachers support staff, parents and care givers; and video recordings. The music therapy student's experiences with each of the two students were described in narrative form, separately, and in chronological order to preserve meaning. The stories were then written again (restoried) in relation to the characteristics of CoMT. The findings suggested that in both cases, students displayed a greater willingness to take part in the organised and informal communal musicing that took place within various contexts of the school. It also showed that the student music therapist resourced the participants on a relational level, resourced their personal strengths and enabled them to access the wider community resources.