Naeun Lee

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. Seung-A Kim


This study explored the experiences of burnout of immigrant music therapists who currently live and work in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine how immigrant music therapists’ cultural adjustment may influence their experience with burnout and to guide participants articulate their burnout experiences through the use of musical improvisation as a method. Qualitative phenomenological inquiry and Arts-Based Research as a method were used in this study. Musical improvisation and open-ended interviews were conducted with three female participants possessing various years of clinical experience. Music as well as interviews were transcribed and analyzed for themes. Three essential categories emerged: (1) participants’ burnout experiences, (2) themes across immigrant music therapists’ experiences, and (3) characteristics of burnout. Each participant’s experience in musical improvisation was narrated based on the researcher’s reaction, an external music therapist’s reaction, and the participant’s reaction to improvised music. The two themes that emerged across immigrant music therapists’ experiences were communication styles and cultural clashes. Within the category of characteristics of burnout, the following four themes emerged: (1) isolation, (2) frustration, (3) fatigue, and (4) job dissatisfaction. The study indicated that immigrant music therapists’ experience of burnout may not always be caused by acculturative stress, when an individual has developed coping strategies. The qualities of the participants’ emotional expressions through musical medium pertaining to their past burnout moments differed based on an individual’s phase of cultural adjustment. Implications for immigrant music therapists and music therapy educators are discussed.

Related Pillar(s)


Included in

Music Therapy Commons