Background: Music therapy students negotiate a complex relationship with music and its use in clinical work throughout their education and training. This distinct, pervasive, and evolving relationship suggests a developmental process unique to music therapy.
Objective: The purpose of this grounded theory study was to create a theoretical model of music therapy students' developmental process, beginning with a study within one large Midwestern university.
Methods: Participants (N = 15) were music therapy students who completed one 60-minute intensive interview, followed by a 20-minute member check meeting. Recorded interviews were transcribed, analyzed, and coded using open and axial coding.
Results: The theoretical model that emerged was a six-step sequential developmental progression that included the following themes: (a) Personal Connection, (b) Turning Point, (c) Adjusting Relationship with Music, (d) Growth and Development, (e) Evolution, and (f) Empowerment. The first three steps are linear; development continues in a cyclical process among the last three steps. As the cycle continues, music therapy students continue to grow and develop their skills, leading to increased empowerment, and more specifically, increased self-efficacy and competence.
Conclusions: Further exploration of the model is needed to inform educators' and other key stakeholders' understanding of student needs and concerns as they progress through music therapy degree programs.
Keywords: education and training; grounded theory; music therapy; qualitative research.
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