Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Research Publications

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    "We've got a special connection": qualitative analysis of descriptions of change in the parent-child relationship by mothers of young children with autism spectrum disorder
    Thompson, G ; McFerran, KS (GRIEG ACADEMY, 2015-01-02)
    Young children with autism spectrum disorder face many developmental challenges, most notably in the area of reciprocal social interactions with family and peers. Collaborating with the families of these children in therapy sessions is fast becoming best practice in many countries. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with 11 mothers who participated in family-centred music therapy sessions along with their child. The interview questions focussed on changes to the nature of the parent–child relationship. Analysis of the interviews identified three aspects of positive change to the parent–child relationship, namely: the quality of the relationship; the parents’ perception of the child and the parents’ response to the child. The changes in the relationship with their child were valued and cherished by all of the mothers, and understanding the impact a family-centred approach might have on the nature of the parent–child relationship needs further exploration.
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    Music Therapy and the NDIS: Understanding music therapy as a reasonable and necessary support service for people with disability
    McFerran, KS ; Tamplin, J ; Thompson, G ; Lee, J ; Murphy, M ; Teggelove, K (Australian Music Therapy Association, 2016)
    This document results from the findings of a small scoping study conducted to develop a better understanding of the needs, perspectives, and goals of all stakeholders in the provision of music-based services within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Interviews were conducted with 10 consenting participants (Registered Music Therapists, NDIS Plan Support Coordinators and a Parent of a Participant of the Scheme) with the content of these interviews forming the data used for analysis. With the study strongly highlighting a lack of community and sector understanding of music therapy, this document looks to stimulate discussion and solutions to broadening knowledge of the profession, particularly in relation to its existing implementation and future potential for people with disability under the NDIS, and as such is prepared on behalf of the Australian Music Therapy Association Inc. It is intended as a document of reference for the NDIA, Registered Music Therapists, Participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, their parents, carers and support workers.
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    Whose choice? Exploring multiple perspectives on music therapy access under the National Disability Insurance Scheme
    Lee, J ; Teggelove, K ; Tamplin, J ; Thompson, G ; Murphy, M ; McFerran, K (Australian Music Therapy Association, 2018)
    The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is a new national funding system for people with disabilities in Australia, which has been tested in some trial sites since 2013 and is now instigated across the Nation. Whilst music therapy and other music services are included on the list of recognised providers, inclusion of these services within individual case plans has been questioned at times by those with authority within NDIS trial sites. This research project aimed to build a collaborative relationship between the University of Melbourne, Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to better understand the needs and capacity for contribution of each organisation involved in the access of people to music therapy. To this end, interviews were conducted with three NDIA employees, five Registered Music Therapists (RMTs) who had experiences providing music therapy services as NDIS providers, and one parent of an eight-year old participant in the scheme who had accessed music therapy. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to identify gaps in knowledge and awareness between the different stakeholders. Fourteen emergent themes and three final themes revealed different perspectives on the matter, but all agreed that it is a significant time to promote music therapy and educate the NDIS planners, allied health professionals, the participants of the scheme and their families. In plain language:This research study investigates how different stakeholders perceived access to music therapy under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the trial sites between 2013 and 2015. Nine people who had the lived experience of the matter such as NDIS planners, Registered Music Therapists (RMTs) and a parent of a boy with a disability were individually interviewed. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis reveals that everyone believed that music therapy was not fully understood or received well by everyone, and RMTs need to take more active roles in educating and promoting music therapy to staff in the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), allied health professionals, as well as parents of people with disabilities.
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    A critical interpretive synthesis of the most commonly used self-report measures in Australian mental health research
    Bibb, J ; Baker, FA ; McFerran, KS (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2016-10)
    OBJECTIVE: To critically examine the self-report measures most commonly used in Australian mental health research in the last 10 years. METHOD: A critical interpretive synthesis was conducted using seven outcome measures that were identified as most popular in 43 studies from three mental health journals. RESULTS: Results suggest that the amount and type of language used in outcome measures is important in both increasing the accuracy of the data collected and fostering positive experiences of data collection for participants. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that many of the measures most often used in Australian mental health research may not align with the current contemporary philosophy of mental health clinical practice in Australia.
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    Contextualising the relationship between music, emotions and the well-being of young people: A critical interpretive synthesis
    McFerran, KS (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2016-03)
    A convergent parallel design was used to interrogate two sets of literature produced by researchers investigating music, emotions and well-being: the first being 16 quantitative music psychology studies, the second being seven qualitative music therapy studies. A series of critical analyses examined some of the main assumptions that had influenced the design of the studies, largely related to the nomothetic or idiographic approaches adopted by the researchers, as well as beliefs about how music is best used for either emotion regulation or emotional expression. The results of the critical analyses were then synthesised into a set of three theoretical propositions describing how uses of music may vary across a well-being continuum, particularly noting that the same music can have a different effect depending on the state of well-being of the individual. It is proposed that when people use music to engage with strong emotions while distressed, qualitatively different experiences result that may require a supportive, even therapeutic context. The value of contextualising rather than generalising about music and emotions is therefore argued, particularly for vulnerable young people who might rely on ways of using music to engage with emotions that do not sufficiently account for their current state of well-being.
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    Integrating Emotions Into the Critical Interpretive Synthesis
    McFerran, KS ; Hense, C ; Medcalf, L ; Murphy, M ; Fairchild, R (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2017-01)
    Critical interpretive synthesis is a particular form of systematic review that critically examines the decisions made by authors while conducting and publishing about their research and practices. It differs from empirical syntheses of qualitative research by emphasizing the interpreted and constructed nature of this form of secondary analysis. In this article, we extend previous literature on critical interpretive syntheses by highlighting the integration of emotional responses when developing critical questions for interrogating the literature and interpreting results. Our extension of the critical interpretive synthesis is illustrated through examples from five studies examining literature in our own field of music therapy, as well as related fields of disability studies, mental health, music psychology, and child welfare. The methodology we have refined uses an iterative and recursive method that promotes increased critical awareness of the assumptions driving the production of research in health contexts.
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    Promoting Engagement in School Through Tailored Music Programs.
    McFerran, K ; Crooke, AHD ; BOLGER, L (Pennsylvania State Libraries Open Publishing, 2017)
    Music and arts programs have increasingly been utilized to promote school engagement. Despite the fact that school engagement and music programs can be understood in myriad ways, little attention has been paid to potential distinctions between the types of music programs that underpin engagement. This article describes an investigation of how and when different types of school engagement were promoted through participation in a range of tailored music programs in four diverse school contexts. Four types of engagement were identified, including individuals' engagement in learning, peer engagement, connections with different members of the community, and community engagement. The characteristics of each type of program differed according to leadership approach, expectation of students, degree of student engagement, and structure. The benefits of tailoring each music program to meet the unique needs and interests of each school community are illustrated through these findings. Understandings of the relationship between music and school engagement are articulated.
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    Understanding sustainability in school arts provision: stakeholder perspectives in Australian primary schools
    McFerran, KS ; Crooke, AHD ; Hattie, J (Routledge - Taylor & Francis, 2018)
    Although the notion of sustainability is popular in rhetoric associated with arts programmes in Australian schools, shared meanings are lacking. References to sustainability may be rooted in any combination of pragmatic, economic and/or health bases. We chose to investigate what stakeholders involved in the provision of school-based arts practices understood about the notion of sustainability in the specific context of those programmes. To do this we interviewed a range of school professionals and asked them to explain how sustainability related to arts programmes in their schools. In this article we present the particular elements that stakeholders described as being sustainable. Five categories emerged through inductive analysis that included: benefits for students, benefits for the schools, the arts programmes themselves, physical artefacts, and the capacity for schools to provide arts experiences. Notable were descriptions of sustainability from several schools that saw ongoing programmes as less important than brief arts experiences that students could carry into other areas of their life. Results illustrate the diversity of understandings about what should be sustained from arts engagement for 27 professionals in Australian Catholic Primary Schools. An ‘exposure’ model of arts programmes is articulated that captures the sustainable benefits beyond sustained involvement in and provision of arts programmes in primary schools.
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    Resistance as a 'dance' between client and therapist
    McFerran, KS ; Finlay, L (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2018)
    The concept of resistance in psychotherapy has been hotly contested with different schools having different understandings of what it is and how to work with it. Since its introduction in the psychoanalytic field there is general agreement that resistance can be understood as a defensive/protective response to threat. Within the creative arts therapies, it is particularly prominent because it also refers to the ways clients respond to the introduction of artistic action. This paper describes our own humanistically-orientated understandings. In our research, we explored how we engage resistance in therapy using a reflexive, inter-subjective and dialogical approach. We engaged in extended dialogue, which moved between experiential closeness and analytic reflective distance, and mutually generated a description of resistance as a co-created dance that occurs at the contact boundaries between two intentionally engaged individuals. This comprised three themes: being delicate, respectful and patient; being curious and playful; and partnering and collaborating.
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    Intentional music use to reduce psychological distress in adolescents accessing primary mental health care
    McFerran, KS ; Hense, C ; Koike, A ; Rickwood, D (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2018-10)
    RATIONALE: Many young people turn to music as a way of exploring and managing their moods and emotions. The literature is replete with studies that correlate music preferences and mental health, as well as a small but increasing interest in uses of music to promote well-being. Recent studies have shown that music use is often unconscious, thus difficult to influence without therapeutic conversations. No study has yet tested whether it is feasible to increase awareness of music use in young people who tend to ruminate with music, and test whether increased awareness can reduce distress. DESIGN: This feasibility study aimed to determine whether involvement in a brief music-based intervention was engaging and acceptable to a small sample of young people, and whether their levels of distress decreased and insight into music uses increased. A mixed methods approach was adopted, merging scores of distress and self-reported experience of the intervention to foster interpretation. RESULTS: Convergent analysis of the different data forms suggests that at least some of the measurable decreases in distress captured for all of the participants were related to participation in the sessions, according to the self-report of a number of the young people in interviews. This is demonstrated through descriptive data compiled under two key themes (Agency and Changed Uses) and illustrated through three case examples that were drawn largely from the words of the young people. CONCLUSION: This feasibility study suggests that young people's relationship with music provides a powerful platform for leveraging engagement in services and improvements in distress, when well timed and carefully scaffolded.