A Qualitative Investigation of Self-Compassion in Music Therapy Group Voicework With Women Coping With Incest

Aviya Riabzev, Moshe Bensimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incest occurs worldwide in all socioeconomic classes. To the best of our knowledge, literature on music processes with incest survivors is scarce, and studies focusing on voicework as a main technique for incest survivors in group settings have not been found. The current study aimed to explore incest survivors’ expectations regarding the use of their voice before participating in a vocal group therapy, and their lived experience of using their voice following the therapeutic process. Seventeen women living in an inpatient alternative center, coping with complex posttraumatic stress disorder due to incest, participated in a voicework group led by two music therapists. The women were divided into two groups of eight and nine women each and participated in eight sessions. Data were collected through focus groups before and after the therapeutic experience. Interpretative phenomenological analysis yielded themes indicating that before the therapeutic process, participants’ expectations regarding the use of their voice reflected low self-esteem, self-criticism, loneliness, shame, fear of exposure, and avoidance of singing. Following the therapeutic process, participants experienced their voice in a way that enabled them to feel self-acceptance and courage to sing, togetherness, bonding, belonging, a strengthening of existing relationships and ability to establish new ones, and awareness of body and emotions in the “here and now.” An overall examination of the findings indicates that participants progressed from experiencing lack of self-compassion before the therapeutic experience to enhanced self-compassion at its completion. The findings are interpreted via the self-compassion concept and implications are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-492
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Music Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2023

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