Date of Award


Document Type


Copyright Status, No Creative Commons License

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara Wheeler


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to deepen my understanding of parental experiences having an infant in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Three parents of premature infants in the NICU at a large urban medical center participated in an individual music therapy session and post-session interview that was conducted right after the session. Data was collected through video recordings of music therapy sessions and post-session interviews. In order to appropriately reflect the music therapy process, I employed, for my analyses of the music therapy sessions, Forinash and Gonzalez's (1989) method, which was adapted from the original method proposed by Ferrara (1989). Results from the music therapy session analyses revealed the complexity that exists in the therapy process and provided the referential and ontological meanings from each session. This was affirmed through the detailed examination of various components of the session. For the post-session interview analyses, I utilized Colaizzi’s (1978) and Giorgi’s (1975) phenomenological methods to discover individual and collective essences of the participants’ experiences. Seven global themes associated with parents’ experiences of music therapy, as well as their experiences pertaining to their role as a parent and overall experience in the NICU were discovered: (a) Experience of Music Therapy and its Environment, (b) Roles of Music, (c) Music as a Connection, (d) the Therapeutic Relationship, (e) Importance of Communication, (f) Experience of Navigating the New Environment of the NICU, and (g) Process of Becoming the Parent of a Premature Infant. Study results may inform needs of parents in the NICU as well as roles of music therapy in addressing and meeting such needs.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons