Two Music Therapy Faculty Obtain PhDs

June 8, 2015


Two accredited music therapists who teach on faculty in the Music Therapy Program recently obtained their PhDs.  Sue Baines and Susan Summers are part of a growing trend where music therapists continue on to higher education to contribute to the literature on music therapy and to engage in research. 

 Sue Baines (3)

Sue Baines has extensive music therapy experience working with persons with a broad spectrum of physical, emotional, social, and spiritual concerns in a variety of clinical and community health settings.  In particular, she has worked with persons with dual-diagnosis, mental health/developmental delay.  Within a developmental and rehabilitative context, she intentionally uses musical elements and characteristics of music to facilitate potential and support positive change.  She finished her doctorate from the University of Limerick’s Music Therapy program in Ireland in November 2014.  She was originally asked to teach there because of her passion for inclusive models of music therapy practice in mental health.  Inclusive models of practice is linked to anti-oppressive practice, which looks at power imbalances in health care, seeks social justice.  In her research she looked at the experiences of residents and staff in music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice.  Interviews were conducted with older adults in a residential setting who were living with complex health conditions including dementia, and with residents who have dual-diagnosis intellectual deficit/mental illness referred to an assessment service for teens and adults.  Analysis of the interviews indicated that music therapy is perceived as valuable in providing a broad spectrum of support including in improving socialization, mood, and communication, but potential negative impacts can occur if music is not provided sensitively.  Music therapy was additionally observed to foster positive relations between staff and residents.  Her song-based music therapy service model The research processes and findings of the interviews revealed that it is the inclusive collaborative expertise of the music therapist which allows the social justice framework of anti-oppressive practice to be evident in her music therapy service and music therapy research.  Her studies were supported by both the University of Limerick and the Michael Cohl Fellowship through the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.  Her doctoral thesis is called “Giving voice to service user voice: Music therapy as an anti-oppressive practice” and is available at this link.   Several related articles on the topic were subsequently published.

Susan Summers

Susan Summers Susan is a music therapist with over 25 years of experience with adults and older adults in community, residential care, and end of life hospice care.  Susan’s research interest embraces her specialized training and experience in music vocal psychotherapy and energetic healing practices to articulate how singing can be a healing influence for personal change and transformation.  She completed a doctorate from Antioch University’s PhD Program in Leadership and Change in 2014.  “Portraits of vocal psychotherapists: Singing as a healing influence for change and transformation” was written to explore the personal singing and vocal journey of music therapists who are also trained as vocal psychotherapists with the Austin model of vocal psychotherapy.  Susan was interested in learning how singing has been a healing influence for change and transformation in their lives, with the hope that this research will offer music therapists new perspectives and information about how singing is important in healing for their own change and transformation, and for that of their clients.  She gathered data by recorded in-person or Skype interviews with five Canadian music/vocal psychotherapists, and analyzed the data from the interviews using a research method called portraiture.  Five MP3 audio files are embedded within and are attached to the dissertation.  A video recorded MP4 author introduction is included.  The electronic version of this dissertation is available at this AURA link.

Submitted by: Sylvia Huzek