An Interpretive Investigation of Music Therapists’ Experiences in Rural Communities of the United States

Elsa R. Korioth, Michael J. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People in rural communities often encounter unique circumstances when accessing healthcare services and there is a lack of literature investigating music therapy in rural areas. Since nearly 20% of the United States population lives in rural areas, it is imperative to understand not only barriers in providing and accessing music therapy but potential solutions to these challenges. Therefore, the purpose of this exploratory interpretivist study was to identify barriers and potential solutions to improve music therapy access in rural communities within the United States. We conducted semi-structured interviews with five board-certified music therapists with experience working in rural communities. We used an inductive approach to thematic analysis to analyze data and incorporated member checking and trustworthiness to clarify and verify results. We identified five themes (supported by 13 subthemes): (1) General differences between rural and urban communities; (2) Factors potentially increasing therapist burnout; (3) Factors inhibiting service user access to music therapy; (4) Potential solutions to increase access; and (5) Methods to reduce therapist burnout. The emerging themes and subthemes describe insights into the experiences of music therapists working in rural communities and identify unique challenges as well as potential methods to mitigate barriers. Implications for clinical practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-201
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of music therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of American Music Therapy Association. All rights reserved.


  • access
  • music therapy
  • qualitative
  • rural
  • thematic analysis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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