Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

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First Advisor

Laurie Peebles, Ph.D., LPMT, MT-BC

Second Advisor

Katie Whipple, MMT, LPMT, MT-BC

Third Advisor

Ashlee Holsey, Ph.D., NCC, LPC


My existence and presence as a Black woman and graduate scholar in music therapy have allowed me to share my experience of racial trauma and oppression in the hallways of GCSU’s music therapy program. Autoethnography is the method I use to write my thesis on the relationships between Blackness, pedagogy, and music therapy. Thus, I perform an evocative autoethnographic study that allows me to share my personal experience of racial trauma and oppression within the culture of music therapy and to critique the larger social structures of whiteness that disenfranchise and dominate me and other Black student music therapists (SMTs). This approach threads Critical Race Theory (CRT)-Multiculturalism-Social Justice as a lens to analyze my racialized experiences. It also centers my voice and shows the adverse effects of encountering systems of oppression, ideologies, and theories in academia. I use my voice to express my identity, challenge the dominant narratives, and advocate for social justice. I also describe how discriminatory acts, microaggressions, and both covert and overt racism affected my mental health and well-being. The manifestations of my unique experiences resulted in having internalizing problems of low self-esteem, high blood pressure, overeating, frequent headaches, anxiety, and sleep disturbances (Cenat, 2023). I have two research questions that guide my study, related to the impact and consequences of racial trauma on my experiences at GCSU. Four themes emerged from this study, which were: Silenced and Invisible, Anti-Blackness, Erasure, and I Belong Here! As a Black woman in music therapy, I express my desire for a voice and authenticity. I am critical of the current music therapy curriculum at GCSU, which I find to be rooted in Eurocentrism and exclusion, and irrelevant to the needs and issues of marginalized groups. I also criticize the lack of commitment and action from the institution and the program to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. My findings support a call for music therapy programs to adopt a pedagogy that uses a CRT-multicultural-social justice lens. This pedagogy would address the various forms of power, privilege, and oppression that exist in the world, challenge the white supremacist ideology that pervades the music therapy profession, and value the diversity and agency of Black SMTs and their clients.

Complete_with_DocuSign_Kydd_Elena_Thesis_Si.pdf (400 kB)
Committee Members Signatures