Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How was a family-whānau centred music therapy approach, demonstrated within a student music therapist’s clinical placement, at a rehabilitation clinic for adults with an acquired brain injury?

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posted on 2021-12-09, 07:41 authored by van Dam, Retts

Abstract  This project explores how the family-whānau centred music therapy approach was demonstrated, by a student music therapist on clinical placement, within a rehabilitation centre for adults with traumatic brain injuries. Parallel links between the Samoan fale tele metaphor of health and family-whānau centred approaches within music therapy perspectives - were enabled in this mahi, due to the work of Carolyn Kenny. Having developed an INDIGENOUS theory in music therapy, Carolyn Kenny emphasises the role of connectedness of each aspect and idea of sacred “space” and “place” within the music therapy session, (Kenny, (1989, 2006), Music and Life - In The Field of Play).  My own personal identity as a respectful PASIFIKA woman, and child migrant who learnt Te Reo Māori, history of Tāngata Whenua, Māoritanga, and kapa hāka on Whaiora Marāe, Otara South Auckland, 1970s - enabled the incorporation of the framework of the fale tele metaphor to represent the “personhood of the Client” and their relationships with aiga/family-whānau, medical teams/staff, community workers, as well as myself - in order to illustrate my findings. These showed that clients invariably somehow communicated and expressed a yearning for their home, had strong emotions of displacement away from home; seemed highly motivated to participate and “join in” musicking sessions due to the presence of their kin; or because they had a clear personal goal during sessions to reach a recovery stage that would facilitate their return as soon as possible to a spouse, parent, siblings, children, or to the space and place that represented “home.”  Data was collected from clinical notes, assessment reviews, client reports, reflective journal. Deductive secondary analysis was used for coding from which five key themes emerged as being important in the FWCMT, and are further described in the music therapy methods, strategies and activities in a clinical vignette.  Of the eight clients, the 167 music therapy sessions which I facilitated, only 43 sessions included the physical presence of family-whānau.  Findings are listed as:  (1) The spiritual, psychotherapeutic, physiological health and well-being of the client;  (2) The internal space – of the participant;  (3) Maintaining the dignity of all – participants, family-whānau;  (4) Boundaries: The collaborative external space – visiting family-whānau, the interdisciplinary teams and staff carers who became the ‘institutional family-whānau,’ or extended whānau of the client;  (5) The rhythmic foundation of the client – innate musical self, external structures, influences and rhythm found in whenua and cosmos which supports the rhythmical structures of the musical, cultural self.


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 Unit

Centre for Applied Cross-Cultural Research

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Alternative Language


Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Hoskyns, Sarah