BAMT music therapy and psychoanalysis network meeting, Saturday 22 April 2023

22 April 2023

Do you want to come to music therapy? Exploring issues of consent and empowerment in psychodynamic music therapy with people with learning disabilities.

22 April 2023, 10am-1pm, online via zoom

Presentation, small and large group discussion led by Tara Roman

            Bookings Link



What is a psychodynamic approach in music therapy when working with people with learning disabilities? Why use a psychodynamic approach when working with people with learning disabilities? If a music therapist uses a psychodynamic approach to understand the work does it matter if the person with learning disabilities is not aware of this, or has not explicitly consented to this approach? Can the person with learning disabilities be empowered to take ownership of their therapy if they did not choose the approach? Whose therapy is it?  These are some of the questions which arose in relation to my day-to-day clinical work when working with young adults with learning disabilities and were the starting point for my research project.


The meeting will start with a presentation to explore these questions using a critical disability studies perspective. The presentation will consider approaches to understanding issues of consent and empowerment in psychodynamic music therapy with people with learning disabilities. The aim of the presentation is not to provide answers to these questions but rather explore relevant contemporary discourses in music therapy and related literature. There will then be time to discuss questions arising from the presentation in small groups.  This will be an opportunity to centre the discussion on the therapeutic approaches and practices of music therapists in the group in relation to the people they work with, and the context(s) they work in. The meeting will finish with a large group discussion to share ideas, responses, reflections and further questions within the group. From my own experience I am aware that these questions might feel difficult to approach. The aim of the meeting is to provide a supportive and non-judgmental space where ideas can be shared and explored through discussion.


Indicative References

Brooks, O. (2014). 'Critical psychotherapy,' 'postpsychotherapy,' and the cult of technicism. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 16(4), 331-347.

Elkins, D. N. (2009). The Medical Model in Psychotherapy: Its Limitations and Failures. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 49(1), 66-84.

Fent, J. (2019). From Researching the Queering Potential of Music Therapy to Queering Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 19(3)

Goodley, D., Lawthom, R., Liddiard, K., & Runswick-Cole, K. (2021). Key Concerns for Critical Disability Studies. International Journal of Disability and Social Justice, 1(1), 27-49.

Gross, R. (2018). The Social Model of Disability and Music Therapy: Practical Suggestions for the Emerging Clinical Practitioner. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 18(1)

Lawes, M. (2021). Trends of differentiation and integration in UK music therapy and the spectrum of music-centredness. British Journal of Music Therapy (London, England : 1995), 35(1), 4-15.

Metell, M. (2019). How We Talk When We Talk About Disabled Children and Their Families: An Invitation to Queer the Discourse. Voices, 19(3), 1.

Pickard, B. (2020). A critical reflection on the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Proficiency for music therapists: A critical disability studies perspective. British Journal of Music Therapy (London, England : 1995), 34(2), 82-94.

Pickard, B., Thompson, G., Metell, M., Roginsky, E., & Elefant, C. (2020). “It’s Not What’s Done, But Why It’s Done”:Music Therapists’ Understanding of Normalisation,
Maximisation and the Neurodiversity Movement.20(3), 1-19.

Rafieyan, R. (2022). Getting to “No” You. Voices : A World Forum for Music Therapy, 22(3), 1.

Rolvsjord, R. (2006). Therapy as Empowerment: Clinical and Political Implications of Empowerment Philosophy in Mental Health Practises of Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 6(3)

Rolvsjord, R. (2014). The Competent Client and the Complexity of Dis-ability. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 14(3)

Turner, D. (2021). Intersections of Privilege and Otherness in Counselling and Psychotherapy: Mockingbird. Routledge.


Tara Roman trained at the University of Roehampton and qualified as a music therapist in 2009. Tara works with children and young people with complex needs in a school for students aged 2- to 19-years-old. Tara is also a research student at the University of Roehampton. Tara is carrying out a participatory research project with children with complex needs and their families.  The research invites children and young people to share what they think and feel about their music therapy sessions and explores how children and young people with complex needs and music therapists work together.