Exploring clinicians’ experiences of engaging in collaborative music therapy and speech and language therapy for children with an acquired brain injury





music therapy, speech and language therapy, collaboration, paediatric acquired brain injury


Music therapy and speech and language therapy are extensively used in the rehabilitation of communication and social interaction skills following acquired brain injury (ABI). Increasing evidence suggests that collaboration between the two disciplines may yield positive outcomes for the paediatric population. However, little is known about clinicians’ experiences of engaging in collaborative music therapy and speech and language therapy within paediatric rehabilitation settings, and there is a need to further explore and understand collaborative therapy to identify strategies for improving client outcomes as well as clinicians’ experiences. This study aimed to explore music therapists’ and speech and language therapists’ experiences of working collaboratively to develop communication and social interaction skills in children with ABI. The study also intended to gain further insights into collaborative practices as well as strategies and interventions used in joint sessions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with three clinicians (two music therapists and one speech and language therapist) who have previously engaged in collaborative practices with this population. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. Four themes emerged from the data: (a) benefits of a collaborative approach, (b) limitations of conjoint work (c) collaborative practices, and (d) need for further research. Key findings suggested that conjoint working between music therapy and speech and language therapy facilitates increased attention and motivation which enables the client to engage in interpersonal interactions and develop communication skills. Joint working is a crucial component of music therapy practice within paediatric ABI. Larger studies are warranted to further explore its complexities and to advocate for this valuable yet demanding approach.

Author Biographies

James Burns, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick, Ireland

James Burns is a music therapist and PhD Candidate at the University of Limerick. [james.burns@ul.ie]

Rebecca Susan O’ Connor, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Ireland

Rebecca O’Connor is a senior music therapist and creative arts therapy service lead at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin. [rebecca.o’connor@nrh.ie]