Parallel Process in Music Therapy Supervision

Gabriela S. Ortiz


The purpose of this study was to better understand parallel process in individual music therapy sessions with a child with Williams Syndrome and the subsequent supervisory relationship. This study consisted of an exploration of parallel process employing the qualitative analysis of first-person research and reflexive phenomenology. Data was collected through video- and audio-recordings from a total of three sessions (two clinical and 1 supervision). The method included analyses of personal journal entries, interpretive coding, and musical and verbal transcriptions. Musical and interpersonal themes were then identified within the therapeutic and supervisory relationships using retrospection and holistic listening. The findings from both relationships and emerging themes were then compared to one another to determine whether they were related. Results demonstrate that parallel processes emerged throughout the context of the therapeutic and supervisory relationships, and included themes of controlling, demanding, and helplessness. In addition, the influence of unconscious mechanisms proves to be significant as a method for enacting the phenomenon. Special attention was given to the role of improvisation and supervision. The examination of improvisation provided a deeper understanding of countertransference and transference. In addition, it proved to be an invaluable tool for identification of parallel process related issues. Supervision was also beneficial in expanding the researcher‟s awareness of the similar dynamics occurring in the music therapy and supervisory relationships. Conclusions and implications for music therapy supervision and practice are also presented.