Clinical Improvisation in Group Music Therapy with Adults with Severe Brain Injury: A Space Where Everything can Happen, or Nothing can Happen

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Maybelle Swaney
MA (Music Therapy), BMus, BA, RMT (Australia). Senior Music Therapist in Disability Services, Department of Human Services, South Australia.

Keywords: Clinical improvisation, group music therapy, moderate–severe brain injury,
emotional rehabilitation, long-term care


This paper is a reflective piece on group music therapy with adults with brain injury. The author draws on her experience of facilitating an open group music therapy programme at a long-term care facility for people with moderate to severe neurological conditions. Particular attention is given to the meaningfulness of improvised musical experiences in the group therapeutic process, as well as the challenges of remaining attentive in a space where, at times, nothing appears to be happening. The paper also explores the positive impact of music therapy on non-group members, e.g. volunteers, and its implications beyond the therapy space.

Swaney 2018 Tired of being.mp3

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