University of Limerick
McCaffrey_2014_experts.pdf (2.56 MB)

Experts’ by experience perspectives of music therapy in mental health care: a multimodal evaluation through art, song and words.

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posted on 2023-02-24, 19:15 authored by Tríona McCaffreyTríona McCaffrey
The recovery approach in mental health advocates for the involvement of service users at each stage of healthcare delivery and planning. Service user evaluation provides one pathway to enhance mental health provision. Based upon principles of inclusive design, this doctoral research commenced with two main aims: 1) to develop high quality processes for service user evaluation of music therapy in mental health, and 2) to reflect upon the feedback elicited from such processes in order to gain a deeper understanding of how music therapy is received among those who have attended sessions in mental health. Two pathways of service user evaluation were designed to include the perspectives of nine service users who have attended music therapy in statutory mental health services. The first involved verbal inquiry through individual interviews with six service users. An additional means of evaluation involved arts-based focus groups with three service users who created one visual image and three songs about their lived experience in music therapy. Following interpretative phenomenological analysis of the interviews and arts-based reflection upon the arts-materials, the combined findings and insights illuminated service user experience in music therapy. Findings revealed: that music therapy is attended because of a love or interest in music; there is not always a distinction between music therapy and other music activities; music therapy is a health-promoting resource; the music therapy environment is person-centred; and music therapy can provide many sensory experiences. Unfamiliar findings highlighted: the circumstances that surround attendance of service users’ first session; the challenges that are involved in music therapy; feelings of tension and frustration in relation to musical expectancy; and that musical contribution is fostered in a group setting. While some input was received from a service user consultant in this study, it is recommended that similar future research expands stakeholder involvement in all stages of the research process.



  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Jane Edwards





Department or School

  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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