Countertransference responses of one music therapist to autistic echolalia

Maya Marom, Avi Gilboa, Ehud Bodner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: In this article, the continuation of a previous study, we explored the phenomenon of echolalia in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from the perspective of one music therapist. Method: We micro-analyzed the music therapist’s responses to the echoing of three clients in 40 interaction segments that occurred during music therapy, focusing on their musical and interactive characteristics. We interpreted these responses as stemming from countertransference reactions to the phenomenon of echolalia. Results: The music therapist’s responses were interpreted and classified into six categories, according to their interpersonal and musical attributes: (a) ignoring the client’s echolalia, (b) exhibiting boredom, hyper-activity, and/or despair, (c) attempting to control the situation, (d) attempting to teach the client, (e) using the echolalia to communicate with the client, and (f) showing empathy. Discussion: In the discussion, we attempted to interpret the findings as processes of countertransference and addressed the importance of mapping and understanding the therapist’s reactions to the phenomenon of echolalia. Practical implications for caregivers working with children with ASD were suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-239
Number of pages18
JournalNordic Journal of Music Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 GAMUT–The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre.


  • Echolalia
  • autism spectrum
  • countertransference
  • microanalysis
  • music therapy


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