*These resources are listed in no particular order. 

Musical Multicultural Competency in Music Therapy: The First Step

Susan Hadley, PhD, MT-BC, Marisol S. Norris, MA, MT-BC


It is our contention that musical cultural competence can be achieved only once music therapists begin the process of transformational learning needed for more authentic self-awareness. This self-awareness forms the basis upon which musical cultural competence may be achieved. Musical cultural competence goes well beyond the idea of simply providing music from a client’s culture. It is about the roles of the particular music, its specific relevance to the client, and understanding the personal and musical cultural biases that the therapist brings into the music therapy context. In this article, we explore the notions that 1) both the client and the therapist bring a variety of cultural variables to the therapeutic relationship, and 2) cultural differences impact a person’s lived experience and influence all human interactions. We agree with the position that all counseling, all human interaction, is cross-cultural in nature, and that each person is a unique manifestation of his/her/zir culture. This process of working toward multicultural awareness, unlike the concept of achieving competencies, is ongoing and requires continual commitment and vigilance.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning: Best Practices in Music Therapy



Given the increasing numbers of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) people, music therapists are more likely to be in contact with LGBTQ individuals in their daily routines. LGBTQ people are coming out at earlier ages, staying out into their senior years, participating in marriage, and raising children. Expanding media coverage has focused on civil rights, marriage equality, bullying in the schools, and respect and pride in the community. Even though the AMTA Code of Ethics and Standards of Clinical Practice define a non-biased approach to working with LGBTQ individuals, the profession is still in need of best practice guidelines that will assist music therapists with tools to ensure that they are informed and sensitized to the needs of the LGBTQ community. The purpose of this paper is to propose a set of best practice guidelines and make recommendations for its implementation.

Music Therapy as an Anti-Oppressive Practice

Sue Baines​


Many human service fields have employed the term Anti-Oppressive Practice but it has yet to be named in music therapy. This article provides a brief overview of the history, applications and role of the integration of Anti-Oppressive Practice theory to music therapy. The historical roots of Anti-Oppressive Practices in music therapy are described with the intent of opening discussion on Anti-Oppressive Practices in music therapy.

Diversity in Music Therapy: A Treatment Model for LGBTQ+ Affirming Care

Elaine O. Slusser​


The aim of this paper was to synthesize available literature and research on music therapy services with LGBTQ+ individuals to propose a treatment model for LGBTQ+ affirming care. According to data collected by the Williams Institute in 2018, 4.5% of Americans identified as LGBTQ+, and the report reaffirmed the professional responsibility of music therapy professionals and students to provide ethically sound and identity-affirming services to this population (The Williams Institute UCLA School of Law, 2018). Further, the data supported the claim that providing quality services to this population was not a specialty concern and carried professional and educational considerations. As of the year 2020 there is no established standardized, evidence-based treatment model for LGBTQ+ affirming care that encompasses interventions, goal domains, and assessment criteria. However, researchers and authors on this subject have proposed interventions, models for radically inclusive practice, cultural assessment tools, best practices, and reactions to the topic from professionals. Several authors on this subject identified the need for an identity-affirming standard of care through standardized treatment models and assessment criteria. Recorded results of the application of proposed models and methods with LGTBQ+ are not generally available in the current body of research. The aim of this paper was to provide a summary of the available literature and research on LGBTQ+ affirming care in music therapy and to employ the literature as evidence to inform a proposed treatment model for LGBTQ+ affirming care.

Multicultural Music Therapy: A Review of Literature

Kristen M. Chase


The purpose of this paper is to review current literature regarding multicultural music therapy practices in the United States and Canada. Research indicates that music therapy professionals have a strong interest and high level of comfort in providing multicultural music therapy, but feel ill-prepared by their undergraduate training programs. Most professionals gained cultural awareness through clinical experience. In addition, many music therapy professionals use multicultural music, and consider cultural implications in implementing music therapy sessions. The authors stress the need for music therapists to explore their own cultural attitudes and views before working with culturally diverse clients, and discover the power of world music in the multicultural setting. Research implications and practical applications are discussed, and five important cultural considerations for the music therapy clinician are provided.

Multicultural Musical Competence in Music Therapy

Laurel Young, PhD, MTA


Over the past 10–15 years, there have been an increasing number of scholarly publications that address a broad range of cultural considerations in music therapy (e.g., Hadley, 2013Hadley & Yancy, 2011Kenny, 2006Pavlicevic & Cripps, 2015Stige, 2002Uhlig, 2006). However, few publications provide clinically focused information on how music therapists can respectfully and skillfully navigate the complexities of engaging in music experiences with clients whose cultures and personal histories are markedly different from their own. These complexities go well beyond learning songs in different languages, studying traditional or indigenous instruments, or gaining in-depth practical and theoretical understanding of the musical elements that define particular musical cultures, genres, or styles. Although all of these skills and knowledge can be very helpful, they do not ensure that the therapist has a genuine understanding of how music is conceptualized or understood within a given culture, nor how a client’s own musical identity has formed within a particular cultural context. If all music therapy encounters are in fact cross-cultural, as Hadley and Norris (2016) propose, achieving even a basic level of multicultural musical competence seems like quite a daunting task. The four articles contained in this special-focus volume of Music Therapy Perspectives all suggest that multicultural musical competence is not only possible, but also a necessary component of music therapy practice.


Laura Kay Cahoon


The changing demographics of the United States directly impact the populations that music therapists serve. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) provides a list of competencies related to understanding race, culture, and diversity, but how these competencies are addressed in the classroom is not standardized. The purpose of this study was to examine music therapists’ perceptions of their training in multicultural competence. The researcher emailed 7,539 board-certified music therapists, 631 of whom completed the survey. Results indicated that 95.1% of music therapists thought that multicultural competence is important, and 55.6% said that they felt prepared to demonstrate multicultural competence after completion of an undergraduate/equivalency music therapy program. Chi square analyses showed no significant associations between ratings of importance and participants’ gender or race/ethnicity. Participants reported that classroom instruction was the most common way the competencies were addressed in undergraduate/equivalency programs. Qualitative analysis of how participants thought they could be better prepared revealed four themes: music skills, curricular integration, experience, and classroom activities.

Disability and psychotherapy practice: Cultural competence and practical tips.

Artman, Laura K.,Daniels, Jeffrey A.


Persons with disabilities constitute the largest minority population within the United States, yet only recently has psychology entered the dialogue of treatment issues for this population beyond the traditional medical model. In this article the authors provide an overview of considerations for psychologists who work with clients presenting with disabilities. Specifically, we address conceptual models of disability and considerations for cultural competence for working with persons with disabilities. Within the cultural competence discussion, we include critical awareness and knowledge, skills development, and practice/applications; such as accessibility, consent forms and other handouts, the psychotherapy milieu, testing accommodations, and the importance of resources, which are provided in the Appendix. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Measuring multiple minority stress: The LGBT People of Color Microaggressions Scale.

Balsam, Kimberly F.,Molina, Yamile,Beadnell, Blair,Simoni, Jane,Walters, Karina


Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals who are also racial/ethnic minorities (LGBT-POC) are a multiply marginalized population subject to microaggressions associated with both racism and heterosexism. To date, research on this population has been hampered by the lack of a measurement tool to assess the unique experiences associated with the intersection of these oppressions. To address this gap in the literature, we conducted a three-phase, mixed method empirical study to assess microaggressions among LGBT-POC. The LGBT People of Color Microaggressions Scale is an 18-item self-report scale assessing the unique types of microaggressions experienced by ethnic minority LGBT adults. The measure includes three subscales: (a) Racism in LGBT communities, (b) Heterosexism in Racial/Ethnic Minority Communities, and (c) Racism in Dating and Close Relationships, that are theoretically consistent with prior literature on racial/ethnic minority LGBTs and have strong psychometric properties including internal consistency and construct validity in terms of correlations with measures of psychological distress and LGBT-identity variables.

Guess who's coming to therapy? Getting comfortable with conversations about race and ethnicity in psychotherapy.

Cardemil, Esteban V.,Battle, Cynthia L.


Despite the fact that clinical psychology training programs now typically offer course work in multicultural issues, many professional psychologists may continue to feel unsure about how and when to incorporate multicultural awareness into their everyday clinical work. Having open discussions with clients regarding issues of race and ethnicity is one way to actively include a multicultural element into psychotherapy, as well as to strengthen the therapeutic alliance and promote better treatment outcome. The authors make several recommendations designed to provoke thought and stimulate conversation about race and ethnicity in the context of psychotherapy. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Music Therapy Practice with Jewish People in the United States of America

Rebecca J. Froman


The purposes of this study are (a) to highlight the diversity of the cultural and religious practices, including musical traditions and repertoire, of people who are Jewish in the United States and (b) to describe, according to practicing music therapists, how those beliefs and practices can influence and interact with music therapy practice. Part I briefly introduces concepts important to Jewish religion and culture while Part II consists of data from music therapists who work clinically with Jewish people gathered through questionnaires and interviews regarding their uses of music and approaches to religious and cultural matters specific to this minority group. Part II also emphasizes practical clinical issues and has implications for clinical practice with a variety of Jewish people and people from other groups in many music therapy settings.

Music therapists’ attitudes and actions regarding the LGBTQ community: A preliminary report

Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, Amy M. Donnenwerth, Beth Robinson, Spencer Hardy, Leah G. Oswanski, Michele Forinash, Maureen C. Hearns, Natasha Anderson, Xueli Tan



This is a preliminary report on survey research currently being conducted by a team of music therapists across the United States. The study's purpose was to explore the attitudes and actions of music therapists across the globe in regards to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) clients, coworkers, and students. The survey questions were designed to explore areas of knowledge as well as deficits in order to direct future educational offerings for music therapists and music therapy students. These results are preliminary, reflecting the first 2 months the survey was open representing a total of 409 respondents. Results indicate a need for further education and training of music therapists regarding LGBTQ issues.

Reflections on art, aesthetics, and therapeutic context in music therapy.

Konieczna-Nowak, L., & Trzęsiok, M. 


Aesthetics in music therapy is a somewhat controversial subject. Varying models and theoretical foundations for music therapy value aesthetics differently. Depending on the way in which music is utilized, different aspects of aesthetic reflections might seem significant. The debate about aesthetics in music therapy has been rooted primarily in traditional ways of thinking about the arts and, therefore, aesthetics. It includes only a few links to contemporary art achievements, which have challenged previous beliefs of aestheticians and shed new light on the criteria of artistic and aesthetic objects, values, and experiences. The relationships between contemporary music, selected aesthetic trends, and music therapy can be reflected on to promote mutual inspirations. The article presents considerations on phenomena such as beauty, aesthetic and artistic value, artification/aesthetization, and aesthetic experience. It reflects on chosen perspectives of contemporary aesthetics and discusses implications for music therapy. This article does not provide exhaustive literature review on this subject, nor an in-depth analysis of current achievements of music therapy and aesthetics. Instead, the authors hope that it will stimulate discussion among different domains and pose questions, which may open further interdisciplinary inquiries. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Immigration--induced syndromes 

Irene Christodoulou


Immigration has been correlated widely with illness throughout history for two reasons. One reason was that people believed that immigrants carried illnesses from their countries. The other was that immigrants used public health services without paying for them, which was a problem for the host countries and their governments. The “Immigrant Syndrome'' or “Ulysses' Syndrome” has been used with the purpose to cover all the immigrant health problems. However, several migration patterns are nowadays revealing a number of distinguishable syndromes that vary according to the country of origin, the host country, the age and sex of the immigrant, the duration of immigration, multiple host countries,

poverty, educational status, marital status, employment, etc.

Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language.

Dunn, Dana S.,Andrews, Erin E.


The American Psychological Association (APA) advocates the use of person-first language (e.g., people with disabilities) to refer to individuals with disabilities in daily discourse and to reduce bias in psychological writing. Disability culture advocates and disability studies scholars have challenged the rationale for and implications of exclusive person-first language use, promoting use of identity-first language (e.g., disabled people). We argue that psychologists should adopt identity-first language alongside person-first constructions to address the concerns of disability groups while promoting human dignity and maintaining scientific and professional rigor. We review the evolution of disability language and then discuss the major models used to characterize disability and people with disabilities. The rationale for person-first language and the emergence of identity-first language, respectively, are linked to particular models. We then discuss some language challenges posed by identity-first language and the current intent of person-first language, suggesting that psychologists make judicious use of the former when it is possible to do so. We conclude by offering five observations of ways that use of both person-first and identity-first language could enhance psychologists’ cultural competence regarding disability issues in personal and scientific communications. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)

Use of the Creative Arts Therapies and Creative Interventions with LGBTQ Individuals: Speaking out from Silence a Literature Review

Tracy Huerta​


The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community is an at-risk population in dire need of competent treatment. This thesis explores sixteen published articles that investigate the use of the expressive therapies and expressive arts with LGBTQ individuals. The silencing of the LGBTQ community by an oppressive heterosexist and transphobic society causes negative impacts to LGBTQ individuals’ wellbeing, physical health, and self-expression. Research suggests that because of their stigmatized identity the LGTBQ community has special therapeutic concerns such as, internalized self-hatred, social rejection, gender or sexual orientation confusion, and safety needs. Multicultural and feminist theories of psychology propose that acknowledging the role of gender and sexual minority identity during treatment can positively influence LGBTQ clients’ mental and emotional health. Informed creative arts therapies, creative clinical interventions, and community arts-based projects can have various beneficial impacts on mental health, including reintegration of difficult experiences, increased self-awareness, improved interpersonal connections, and further development of self-concepts. Through the expressive arts LGBTQ individuals can experience a safe holding space for the pride and pain of their experiences.

Cultural humility and racial microaggressions in counseling.

Hook, J. N., Farrell, J. E., Davis, D. E., DeBlaere, C., Van Tongeren, D. R., & Utsey, S. O. 


Racial microaggressions may contribute to poor counseling outcomes in racial/ethnic minority clients. The present study examined the occurrence of racial microaggressions in counseling using a large and diverse sample and explored the association between perceived cultural humility of the counselor and racial microaggressions. Racial/ethnic minority participants (N = 2,212) answered questions about the frequency and impact of racial microaggressions in counseling and the characteristics of their counselor. The majority of clients (81%) reported experiencing at least 1 racial microaggression in counseling. Participants most commonly reported racial microaggressions involving denial or lack of awareness of stereotypes and bias and avoidance of discussing cultural issues. There were few differences in racial microaggression frequency or impact based on client race/ethnicity and counselor race/ethnicity. Racially matched clients viewed racial microaggressions as more impactful than did clients who were not racially matched. Client-perceived cultural humility of the counselor was associated with fewer microaggressions experienced in counseling. We conclude by discussing limitations, areas for future research, and implications for counseling. (APA PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

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