The aim of this qualitative study was to conduct a naturalistic examination of the process of a music therapy group with preverbal individuals on the autistic spectrum.
The study involved a music therapy treatment process, based on music-centered music therapy and music psychotherapy, that occurred in 16 sessions over a period of approximately four months. The study investigated the nature of the clinical process, the elements that characterized the intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics of the group, and the way participants engaged with and utilized the music in their intrapersonal and interpersonal dimensions.
The research design was one originally developed by Smeijsters and Storm (1996) in which the researcher functions in an ongoing consultative role to the therapists as the therapy process proceeds. The study investigated and discussed the advantages and disadvantages of Smeijsters and Storm’s (1996) model. The analyses of the 16 sessions revealed that all the studied clients were able to operate, in terms of intra-relationship, according to Greenspan and Wieder’s (2006) first developmental stage: they demonstrated interest, curiosity, and initiative. In terms of inter-relationship, they were able to operate according to Greenspan and Wieder’s (2006) developmental second stage: they engaged and established relationship with others. It was concluded that music had a relevant role in the process of assessing, treating, and evaluating the individuals in the group.
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