Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Seung-A Kim


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the impact of personal loss on music therapists' work in end-of-life care. Each of the two participants in this study has worked in an end-of-life care setting as a board certified music therapist, has experienced a personal loss within the past ten years, was willing to share their experience of grief openly, and was personally aware as to how their experience has impacted their work.

The participants discussed their loss on a personal and professional level, and shared the positive effects and challenging outcomes of grief in relation to their clinical work. These interviews were transcribed and analyzed using an adaptation of the methods of Colaizzi (1978), Giorgi (1975), and Lindenfelser, Grocke, and McFerran's (2008), to gather global findings and themes.

The study found that the positive impacts of grief on clinical work included greater empathy, enhanced ability to be present in music and in silence, and increased self-awareness for the music therapist. Challenging outcomes included an inability to be present to clients while grieving, an increased need for personal space to grieve, and emotional responses, such as crying during sessions and experiencing anger. These findings may be used help students, educators, and supervisors in music therapy recognize warning signs of difficulty and identify coping skills that may be helpful in addressing personal grief constructively while carrying out clinical work. It may also lead to further and continued research regarding the effect of bereavement on a music therapist's work in end-of-life care.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons