Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: A Descriptive, Cross-Sectional Study of Former Music Therapists’ Workplace Attitudes
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Understanding why music therapists are leaving the profession has largely gone unstudied and there is minimal research on career longevity within the field of music therapy. However, between the years 2020 and 2021 almost 300 music therapists left the field out of 9,594 total music therapists (CBMT, 2022), although 788 new music therapists joined the field. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine workplace attitudes of former music therapists. Understanding workplace attitudes may help those in the music therapy profession at large understand the reasons music therapists- specifically new professionals- may leave the field. One hundred former music therapists participated in the survey, which was an adapted version of the COPSOQ III (Burr et al., 2019). Following the completion of the study, six main themes summarizing reasons behind why people may leave the music therapy profession were compiled: lack of safety in the workplace, lack of community and support, role ambiguity, high rates of demand, little possibility for development, and high rates of burnout. Prioritizing safety and support within clinical practice would help to address all six areas of concern. Additional research into what professions former music therapists pursue following their departure from the field, and similar analyses of related fields (social work, child life, etc.) is recommended to continue the understanding of this nuanced and challenging issue.