Challenges in Music Therapy Undergraduate Education: Narratives From the Front Lines

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Lloyd, Kimberly
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Education provides the foundation and training necessary for individuals to become competent and ethical music therapists. No studies have explored how regulations and various factors impact music therapy programs, making it difficult to identify problems and weaknesses in the current system and structure or to search for potential solutions. Therefore, the purpose of this narrative inquiry will be to discover the challenges educators face in addressing music therapy professional competencies in undergraduate music therapy programs in the United States in relation to internal and external factors. Ten programs, five private and five public institutions, were randomly selected to represent each of five geographic regions in the United States. Four program directors returned the Informed Consent form and completed interviews. The loosely structured interviews focused on seven areas: (a) the most gratifying aspect of their job, (b) their most important responsibility, (c) internal and external factors or elements affecting education, (d) managing the factors, (e) adjusting to the growing competencies, (f) effects of state/federal legislation, and (g) other thoughts on music therapy education. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded using a circular coding process. Participants agreed the most gratifying aspects of their jobs were watching students grow and become successful. Their most important responsibilities were to the students, faculty, institution, and profession. The major factors identified were (a) lack of available resources, (b) packed courses and curriculum, (c) time, (d) pressure from administration and other faculty, and (e), state authorization issues. All of the participants seemed to manage these factors at the administrative level through advocating. The narratives indicate program directors work to keep many factors at bay to allow their students to grow individually and professionally.