How can I use, develop and improve a collaborative music therapy practice to enhance the sense of community at a day programme for adults with learning disabilities?
Everyone needs to belong. People with disabilities often experience belonging to restricted communities of people who usually have similar needs. The purpose of this study is to investigate how music therapy could enhance the sense of community at a day program for adults with learning disabilities. The project focuses on exploring and improving my own collaborative music therapy practice in order to reach the goal of this research. This action research follows three cycles of planning, acting and reflecting. The different cycles observe my own collaborative skills, moments of togetherness as an expression of a sense of community and relationship building with different communities of people. The data analysis involves a thematic analysis of my clinical and reflective notes taken during each cycle. I have used song composition for each cycle as a tool for integrating meaning and summarising my learning. The process of this action research helped me understand that: 1) Effective collaboration with staff required working genuinely as a team, sharing goals and acknowledging individual skills. 2) A sense of community was about connecting with others but also about self- realisation in a group. 3) Building relationships between people, staff, whānau, the local community and communities of musicians contributed to enhance the sense of community at the facility. Collaboration is an essential skill for music therapists aiming at connecting people with their community and to expend connections to a wider horizon.