Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Dr. Brian L. Wilson

Second Advisor

Edward Roth

Third Advisor

Dr. David Smith


Music Therapy, Forensic, Correctional, Vicarious Traumatization, Trauma

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore the role trauma exposure has on the possible development of symptoms of Vicarious Traumatization (VT) in the lives of Board Certified Music Therapists employed in correctional and forensic settings. Research was conducted through completion of an electronic survey. Additionally, the researcher sought to identify current music therapy practices as well as differences between practicing in forensic settings and correctional settings. The participants involved in this study were Board Certified Music Therapists who work in forensic and correctional settings. Survey invitations were electronically sent to 133 prospective participants as listed on either the American Music Therapy Association or Certification Board for Music Therapists’ data bases. Six of the invitations returned as “undeliverable” leaving 127 as delivered. Twenty nine music therapists (n=29) participated in this study. Results were separated by type of work setting to determine any differences and/or similarities. Although 29 persons completed the survey, one did not identify with either forensic or correctional setting. Data showed 19 respondents identified working in a forensic setting, while the remaining 9 identified with correctional settings. While there were a number of similarities and differences between the two settings, the findings indicate overall, music therapists have been exposed to violence, trauma, and high stress at their jobs. In regards to treatment objectives, music therapists in each setting focus on developing healthy coping skills and interpersonal skills. A noted difference is that forensic music therapists tend to address goals that can help their clientele succeed when reintegrated back into the community, while correctional music therapists are more likely to focus on issues of anger management, self-regulation and quality of life while their clients are incarcerated.