Experiences of music therapy students working as camp counselors for individuals with autism spectrum disorder: A thematic analysis

Michael J. Silverman, Rebecca West, Edward T. Schwartzberg, Chantise Hunt, Melody R. Peterson, Lauren Shibley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of music therapy students working as camp counselors for individuals with ASD. We conducted semi-structured interviews with graduate and undergraduate students (N = 6) and used thematic analysis to analyze data. Three major themes and nine supporting subthemes emerged. The first theme, Various Differences, was supported by four subthemes: Despite having similar diagnoses, all campers are highly idiosyncratic; Success is different for each camper; Camp is unique as nobody is different because everybody is different; and Counselors have a unique and holistic relationship with campers. The second theme, Counselor Learning, was supported by three subthemes: Counselors experienced changed perspectives and learned from the campers; Counselors learned about and practiced techniques through music therapy observations; and Counselors gained confidence, patience, and experienced personal growth. The third theme, Positive Experience, was supported by two subthemes: Being a counselor for individuals with ASD is a rewarding experience; and Counselors had supportive relationships with their peers. Being a camp counselor for individuals with ASD was a uniquely positive learning experience that provided students with a deeper and more holistic understanding of ASD and themselves as prospective clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalNordic Journal of Music Therapy
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 20 2018

Keywords

  • Music therapy students
  • autism
  • camp counselor
  • experiential learning
  • interpretivist
  • thematic analysis

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