Exploring Musical Intimacy as a Therapeutic Element: A Phenomenological Inquiry

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Payonk, Allison
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The foundational research on musical intimacy was conducted by Medcalf and McFerran (2016), in which they coined the term to describe music therapist’s feelings of strong connections through music making with clients. Using phenomenological inquiry, this study explored how musical intimacy informs music therapy practice through the written narrative experiences of five music therapists on their experiences of musical intimacy in their clinical work. The participants journaled about their current experiences with musical intimacy up to two times per week over a four-week period. Their responses were analyzed using introspective reflexivity (Finlay, 2002) and the MAXQDA (VERBI Software, 2019) computer program to reveal five global themes of musical intimacy in clinical work: (a) intersubjectivity, (b) means of communication, (c) means of connection, (d) temporal relationship, and (e) therapeutic relationship. Based on these findings the researcher posed that the experience of intimacy within and through music introduces unique situations to the field of music therapy, which causes differences in the therapeutic processes than those of related therapeutic fields. Additionally, the therapeutic factors revealed in moments of musical intimacy appear to act in a reciprocal relationship in which they also influence the process of musical intimacy in the therapeutic environment.