Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Supporting staff in their interactions with children who have learning support needs: The role of a student music therapist

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posted on 2021-11-23, 11:56 authored by O’Rourke, Helen

This research explores the question “How can a student music therapist support staff in their interactions with learners in a special education setting?” To answer this question secondary analysis of data was used to examine clinical notes that had been collected as part of my music therapy practicum experience at a special education school. The data selected for thematic analysis was collected between March and May 2017, and focused on three groups which were co-facilitated by myself and other school staff. Six main themes emerged; Expanding on Existing Music use; Collaboration; Interaction Styles; Supporting Staff in Music; Staff Witnessing Student in Music; and Expanding on Māori Materials. In addition to this, three sub-themes emerged relating to the use of; Elements of Music; Instruments; and Repertoire. The main themes relate to ecological approaches to music therapy such as community music therapy (Ansdell, 2002) and resource oriented music therapy (Rolvsjord, 2016). They indicate that the student music therapist engaged with a broader approach to music therapy than traditional closed door models of practice. The integrated model of team work in the school was important in creating an environment of fluid knowledge sharing and collaborative approaches. This integrated approach to music therapy work can enrich the culture of the special education context and is in line with Ministry of Education Special Education policy and philosophy (Twyford, 2009).


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

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Rickson, Daphne