Bruscia’s clinical techniques for improvisational music therapy in autism research: A scoping review — Kathleen Skinner & Ashley Kurkjian & Heidi Ahonen

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Bruscia’s clinical techniques for improvisational music therapy in autism research: A scoping review

Kathleen Skinner & Ashley Kurkjian & Heidi Ahonen

ABSTRACT

This scoping review explores Bruscia’s (1987) clinical techniques for improvisational music therapy as they relate to music therapy in autism research to determine the most commonly used clinical techniques in music therapy with clients with autism. The work was undertaken as a preliminary step in a pilot study to explore how the techniques can be represented in terms of individual ways of playing, musical relationships; and how the use of the techniques impacts the participant’s experience of musical connection, influence, and expression. To be included in the screening, the research articles had to employ improvisational music therapy with clients with autism, and label the techniques used, or provide a clear description of them. In addition, it was required that articles were published in a peer-reviewed journal. Based on the qualitative thematic analysis, currently the most commonly used clinical improvisation techniques with autistic clients are as follows: imitating, reflecting, synchronising, extending, symbolising, holding, incorporating, and rhythmic grounding.

Keywords

autism, Bruscia’s clinical improvisation techniques, improvisation, music therapy

Author Biographies

Kathleen Skinner is an accredited music therapist and qualifying registered psychotherapist. She owns a private practice in Guelph, Ontario, specialising in mental health work with teenagers and adults. In addition, Kathleen works at Grand River Hospital in child and adolescent mental health. [Kathleen.Skinner@grhosp.on.ca] Ashley Kurkjian is an accredited music therapist and qualifying registered psychotherapist. She currently works in private practice, providing music psychotherapy services in long-term care facilities through New Song Music Therapy (Greater Toronto Area) and speech-supported music therapy to children and adolescents through Move and Talk Therapy (Halton/Peel). [ashleykurkjianmusic@gmail.com] Heidi Ahonen, PhD, RP, MTA, FAMI, is Professor of Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Director of the Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute for Music Therapy Research. [hahonen@wlu.ca]