Promoting young people's musical identities to facilitate recovery

Presentation First Author: 
Cherry Hense

Studies of youth mental health programs report the benefits of strengths-based modes of care for promoting recovery and wellbeing (Lederman, Wadley, Gleeson, Bendall, & Álvarez-Jiménez, 2014; Schell, Cotton, & Luxmoore, 2012). Adjunct music therapy initiatives offer innovative models of working towards young people’s recovery in ways that align with the strengths-based ethos of these services (McCaffrey, Edwards, & Fannon, 2011; Solli, Rolvsjord, & Borg, 2013). The benefits of music therapy in youth mental health are founded on research that illustrates how young people independently use music to manage aspects of their mental health in everyday life (McFerran & Saarikallio, 2014; Saarikallio & Erkkila, 2007). In addition, music therapy studies show how engaging young people in tailored music programs can optimise their existing connection to music and create powerful tools for recovery (Cheong-Clinch, 2013; Gold, Voracek, & Wigram, 2004; Solli & Rolvsjord, 2014). Despite this strong evidence base, there has been no research investigating how music therapy programs can facilitate young people’s recovery by promoting musical identity as a form of strength-based practice.

This presentation reports on the findings from a Doctoral research project investigating how promoting young people’s musical identities can facilitate their recovery from mental illness. In this participatory project, young people accessing a music therapy program at a youth mental health service in Australia participated in collaborative qualitative interviews exploring how their musical identities changed during experiences of mental illness and recovery. Data was collected and analysed using rigorous Constructivist Grounded Theory strategies (Charmaz, 2014).

Results form a grounded theory explaining how young people engaged in a process of recovery of their musical identity. This theory will be used to illustrate three strength-based ways in which promoting young people’s musical identities can facilitate their recovery through: the construction of a health-based identity, meaning-making, and supporting social participation. Implications of these findings will be discussed in relation to the role of music therapy as an adjunct strengths-based approach within youth mental health care. The potential of innovative music therapy models that span community-engagement for prolonged recovery will also be proposed.

Conference Name: 
Date of Presentation: 
10th Oct 2015
Type of presentation: 
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