Music Therapy as Self-Care for Parents of Children with Autism

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Engelking, Elizabeth
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The purpose of this mixed methods research study was to explore the effectiveness of music therapy as a form of self-care for parents of children with autism. Three parents participated in this study. Participants attended two music therapy sessions. Each session was approximately 45 minutes long and included music-assisted relaxation, Music Imagery, singing, and instrumental improvisation interventions. Participants completed a pre-test and post-test in which they ranked their perceptions of various elements of selfcare. Participants also completed a satisfaction survey in which they marked those interventions they found most and least helpful in terms of self-care and which interventions they might incorporate into their personal self-care practices. After the study, participants were asked to complete a written follow-up survey about their overall impressions of music therapy as self-care. Participants found music therapy to be helpful in reducing stress, body tension, and emotional strain. They found music-assisted relaxation to be the most helpful intervention and Music Imagery and singing to be the least helpful interventions in terms of self-care. Overall, participants expressed high satisfaction with music therapy, though they indicated that they would be unlikely to pursue music therapy if it were offered. The participants stated that finding care for their children and having busy schedules would make it difficult to participate in music therapy sessions. Participants indicated that they were interested in learning music therapy techniques or having music therapy-related materials (such as a compact disc with music and interventions) that they could use independently at their convenience.