Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How Can I Identify and Mitigate the Ways in Which I Contribute to Ongoing Inequalities and Oppressions in My Music Therapy Practice?

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posted on 2022-11-16, 19:53 authored by O'Connor, Chris

This action-based research has focused on my practice as a student music therapist working across several placements with a broad range of clients. The research question is: “How can I identify and mitigate the ways in which I contribute to ongoing inequalities and oppressions in my music therapy practice?” Across the first two cycles of an Action Research process, I saw that if I was going to be causing harm it was in areas where I hadn’t thought to look and had unidentified assumptions, so I found practical areas of focus. I identified potential sites of ongoing oppression and inequality in my unexamined ableism and privilege. Via an examination of physical touch in my practice, and by connecting with my Pākehā identity, I found various ways of mitigating these unintended harms. In Action Cycle Three I embraced my creative process, discovering new and novel elements within the familiar, repetitive, and predictable dimensions of my practice. I developed an awareness of the importance of context around my learning and was able to scrutinize my practice more fully. In my music therapy practice I want to urgently address the ever-present danger of systemic oppressions and inequalities creeping into my thinking and practice. I acknowledge that the limited scope of this research could not include examinations of gender, class, and other domains of possible harm, and that due to the highly reflective nature of this research, these findings apply to me alone. Yet I am excited to investigate how exploring creative research techniques might aid us in mitigating the perils of unintended harm for music therapists and students.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Music Therapy

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Music Therapy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Hoskyns, Sarah