Date of Award


Document Type


Copyright Status, No Creative Commons License

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy


School of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Maria C. (Nina) Guerrero


The purpose of this study was to explore the sibling relationship within improvisational music therapy, specifically the relationship between an autistic sibling and a neurotypical sibling. The following research question was posed: How does the relationship between a neurotypical and autistic sibling dyad present in improvisational music therapy? Subquestions to the research questions included: How do a neurotypical and autistic sibling dyad interact with one another within an improvisational music therapy session?, and How do a neurotypical and autistic sibling dyad interact with the music therapist within an improvisational music therapy session? An autistic and neurotypical sibling dyad was recruited, and data were collected through a microanalysis and thematic analysis of an archived video of a session with the sibling dyad. The following themes emerged from the data: Theme #1: Fields of Trust, with subthemes Existing and Continually Developing Relationships and Newly Established Relationships; Theme #2: Communication Beyond Words, with subthemes Communication Through Physical and Gestural Cueing, Communication Through Eye Gaze, and Attunement and Mirroring Through Musical Communication; and Theme #3: Independence Within Interdependence. Results showed that the peer relationship facilitated and naturally present between siblings and the previously established trust and roles within the relationship influence the music experiences that unfold in the session. The in-depth analysis of the sibling interaction within the improvisational music therapy setting provided insight into how siblings interact with and respond to the music therapist and vice versa.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons