Anglia Ruskin Research Online (ARRO)
Ogilvie_2019.pdf (2.45 MB)

An investigation into the links between music therapy for adults with learning disabilities who self-harm and staff support groups for their carers

Download (2.45 MB)
posted on 2023-08-30, 16:29 authored by Hayley C. Ogilvie
This qualitative study investigates the use of music therapy for adults with learning disabilities who self-harm. It also considers the role of their care staff in responding to self-harm. Studies in this area acknowledge that self-harm is complex for those engaging in it and their staff teams. Recommendations from studies with staff teams working in this area conclude that staff are asking for more support. Studies show that service-users are requesting access to therapy. This research project investigates two service-users and their staff teams in detail. Music therapy was offered to the service-users for one year, providing the opportunity to process experiences through language and improvised music. Care staff participated in a monthly group that offered space to explore their experiences of supporting somebody who self-harms. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews administered to participants at the start of the study, and twice more at six-monthly intervals. The interviews were transcribed and analysed within a framework of interpretative phenomenological analysis. The study investigates a possible correlation between this combined approach and a reduction in self-harming for the service-users and a change in how staff understood self-harm and responded to it. Results support a positive correlation between these interventions and a reduction in incidences of self-harm among service-users, as well as a change in the responses of their care staff. Service-users linked the opportunity to express difficult emotions through music therapy to a reduction in self-harming. Staff teams reported benefits of attending the groups and came to new ways of understanding their service-users. As a result of this study, music and art therapy groups for the staff teams of adults with learning disabilities are being developed and trialled within the NHS trust in which this study took place. This work is being carried out alongside clinical interventions for service-users, resulting in a systemic approach that attends to service-users and staff teams simultaneously.



Anglia Ruskin University

File version

  • Accepted version


  • eng

Thesis name

  • PhD

Thesis type

  • Doctoral

Legacy posted date


Legacy creation date


Legacy Faculty/School/Department

Theses from Anglia Ruskin University/Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences

Usage metrics

    ARU Theses


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager