Psychodynamic Music Therapy and the Work of Classroom Practitioners working with Children with Complex Needs in Belarus.

  • Lisa Margetts

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Permission has been gained from Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, Minsk and from the relevant authorities in Belarus to use the name of the Centre in this thesis.
This research explores the principal meeting points and tensions, for practitioners at Children’s Rehabilitation Centre Minsk, between Winnicott’s theories of the holding environment (1960) and play (1971), and current classroom practice with children with complex needs based on Vygotsky’s theory of defectology. It considers whether and in what ways those practitioners are able to assimilate Winnicott’s theories, and their usefulness in supporting classroom-based work with children with complex needs. Finally, the research explores perceived changes in relationships between staff and children arising from this experience, in accordance with CRC’s self-identified need for support in this area. A mixed-methods design was adopted, employing qualitative and quantitative research methods. Winnicott’s theories provide the framework for the development of a new evaluation instrument. This gives the theoretical structure for a specifically designed staff development programme, integrating teaching, experiential work and practice-based sessions, which was central to the fieldwork at CRC. Eight staff participants evaluated their usual musical interaction with a child with complex needs (pre-intervention). Following engagement with the staff development programme (intervention), participants undertook ten individual music sessions with the same child (post-intervention). Sessions were filmed, and two self-chosen extracts pre- and post-intervention were self-rated against the descriptors of the evaluation instrument. Participants then reflected on the experience with the child in interviews. To provide triangulation, the same 16 video extracts were randomised, and then rated in the same way by 16 UK music therapists in an online study. Thematic analysis of data shows that the experience of Winnicott’s ‘holding’ in the learning process enabled participants to attune to, and empathise with the child. Quantitative analysis shows consequent adaptation to the child. It is concluded that Winnicott’s theories are accessible, relevant and applicable within classroom practice at CRC, to support the establishment and development of positive relationships between staff and children.
Date of Award22 May 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SponsorsSempre, The Music Therapy Charity, British Association for Music Therapy & Jeremiah Colman Gift Trust
SupervisorAdam Ockelford (Supervisor) & David Hargreaves (Supervisor)


  • Psychodynamic Music Therapy, Belarus, Children with Complex Needs, Classroom Practitioner learning and development

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