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Faculty of Music


The phrase "woman to woman" implies that relationships between women have particular qualities and levels of understanding that value the female perspective (Gilbert & Scher 1999). This case study describes my experience as a female music therapist and pianist working for four years with Sarah (pseudonym), a physically challenged, intelligent woman who is non-verbal. Salient aspects of the improvisational music therapy sessions were use ofself as music therapist, building a collaborative relationship, working with subtle and non-verbal responses, interpretive flexibility and musical transparency. There were also dimensions of the therapeutic process that enlarged the musical relationship such as silence, "being heard and seen", comradeship, mutuality, being in connection, ambiguity, vulnerability and inner resources. The psychology of women literature focuses on gender and its influence on women's development in regards to race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, age and able-bodiedness. The analysis of 103 one-hour sessions was informed by the feminist and psychology of women perspectives of growing into relationship, movement in therapy and the power to empower (Hadley & Edwards 2004; Jordan 1997; Lawrence & Maguire 1997; Miller & Stiver 1997; Rolvsjord 2004).


This article was originally published in British Journal of Music Therapy and can be retrieved at:

Arnason, C., "Woman to Woman: A Music Therapist’s Experience of Working with a Physically Challenged and Non-Verbal Woman," British Journal of Music Therapy, 20(1), pp. 13–21. Copyright © 2006 Carolyn Arnason. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.