Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Music Therapy


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Heather Wagner


The purpose of this study was to describe the group dynamics of Autistic children in a developmental, individual difference, relationship-based improvisational music therapy group, understand how those dynamics manifested, and to observe changes over time. The primary data source was archived clinical videos from the first, middle, and last sessions of one clinical year. A qualitative content analysis using the Music Therapy Group Improvisation Analysis Model involved a cyclical process of listening, writing descriptive narratives, and analyzing those narratives to develop meaning categories describing the group dynamics. The group dynamics of each session were described individually, and after a process of comparison and recategorizing, the overarching group dynamics were outlined. The first session had four themes: stability, individual initiations, working together, and differentiation. The middle session had six themes: fragmentation, conflict and resolution, client control, music therapist control, holding, and emotional expression. The final session had five themes: differentiation, music therapist bridging communication, music therapist modelling, joining musical play, and stability vs. instability. When compared and synthesized, the overarching themes included: stability and structure, differentiation and conflict, togetherness, therapist roles, and client roles. In this study, clients became more interactive with the therapist and each other over the course of the group. Greater musical collaboration was fostered through the differentiation and conflict, and the clients’ expanded ways of interpersonal relating indicated the potential benefits of group music therapy for Autistic children.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons