Meeting Art with Art: Arts-Based Methods Enhance Researcher Reflexivity in Research with Mental Health Service Users

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Abstract

This paper presents a rationale for arts-based practices in music therapy research, and provides an example of using ABR techniques in research. Arts-based materials are increasingly demonstrated to have the capacity to extend processes of reflexivity and analysis in a range of qualitative health research studies. By comparison, music therapy research studies have rarely employed arts-based methods or techniques. There is a need for more studies in music therapy that employ arts-based research to demystify and elaborate a wider range of creative approaches within music therapy inquiry. In the study described in this paper, ABR was used to reflect on the contribution of a service user in a community mental health context who participated in a focus group about his experiences of music therapy. ABR was found to offer a creative way to engage service users, and to deepen and extend the researcher’s reflexivity when responding to materials created by research participants.

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