Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 2164–2173 | Cite as

A Music Therapy Tool for Assessing Parent–Child Interaction in Cases of Emotional Neglect

  • Stine L. JacobsenEmail author
  • Cathy H. McKinney
Original Paper


Using a music therapy approach to assess emotional communication and parent–child interaction is new to the field of child protection. However, musical improvisations in music therapy has long been known as an analogue to affect attunement and early non-verbal communication between parent and infant, which called for an investigation of the value of music therapy within the field of family assessment and family therapy. More specifically, we wanted to investigate and further strengthen assessment of parenting competencies (APC). We developed scores and examined the psychometric properties of the APC-R (revised version) in a quantitative study including a small, embedded qualitative component. A total of 52 dyads of children and their parents participated of whom 18 were in residential center to address emotional neglect and 33 functioned as a non-clinical comparison (children aged 5–12). All dyads underwent two video recorded music therapy assessment sessions. Video analyses focused on autonomy relationship, turns, and parental response types producing scores on Mutual Attunement, Nonverbal Communication Skills and Emotional Parental Response. Psychometric analyses of the APC-R included interrater reliability, test re-test reliability, internal consistency, and concurrent validity. We concluded that APC-R is reliable and valid and adds to the existing observational instruments of parent–child interaction.


Parent–child interaction Parenting competencies Assessment Music therapy Emotional communication 


  1. Abidin, R. (1995). Parenting Stress Index. Professional manual. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
  2. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. Baxter, H. T., Berghofer, J. A., MacEwan, L., Nelson, J., Peters, K., & Roberts, P. (2007). The individualized music therapy assessment profile. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Brace, N., Kemp, R., & Snelgar, R. (2006). SPSS for psychologists. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillian.Google Scholar
  5. Browne, D. T., Meunier, J. C., O’Connor, T. G., & Jenkins, J. M. (2012). The role of parental personality traits in differential parenting. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 542–553.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruscia, K. E. (1987). Improvisational models of music therapy. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  7. Carcamo, R. A., Ijzendoorn, M. H. V., Vermeer, H. J., & Veer, R. V. D. (2013). The validity of the Massie Campbell attachment during stress scale (ADS). Journal of Child and Family Studies,. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9728-z.Google Scholar
  8. Carpenter, L. L., Tyrka, A. R., Ross, N. S., Khoury, L., Anderson, G. M., & Price, L. H. (2009). Effect of childhood emotional abuse and age on cortisol responsivity in adulthood. Biological Psychiatry, 66, 69–75.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crittenden, P. M. (2005). Der Care Index als hilsmittel für Früherkennung, Intervention und Forschung. Frühförderung interdisziplinär (early interdisciplinary intervention). Special Issue: Bindungsorientierte Ansätze in der Praxis der Früförderung, 24, 99–106.Google Scholar
  10. Crittenden, P. M., Claussen, A. H., & Kozlowska, K. (2007). Choosing a valid assessment of attachment for clinical use: A comparative study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 28, 78–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Daveson, B. A., Magee, W. L., Crewe, L., Beaumont, G., & Kenealy, P. (2007). The music therapy assessment tool for low awareness states. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 14, 545–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deacon, S., & Piercy, F. (2001). Qualitative methods in family evaluation: Creative assessment techniques. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 29, 255–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Elzinga, B. M., Molendijk, M. L., Oude Voshaar, R. C., Bus, B. A., Prickaerts, J., Spinhoven, P., et al. (2011). The impact of childhood abuse and recent stress on serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor and the moderating role of BDNF Val66Met. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 214, 319–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Estefan, L. F., Coulter, M. L., Vandeweerd, C. L., Armstrong, M., & Gorski, P. (2013). Relationships between stressors and parenting attitudes in a child welfare parenting program. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 199–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fosco, G. M., Caruthers, A. S., & Dishion, T. J. (2012). A six-year predictive test of adolescent family relationship quality and effortful control pathways to emerging adult social and emotional health. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 665–675.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. George, C., Kaplan, N., & Main, M. (1995). The adult attachment interview. Unpublished manuscript, University of California at Berkeley.Google Scholar
  17. Gerard, A. (2005). Parent–child relationship inventory (PCRI): Manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  18. Green, J. M., Stanley, C., Smith, V., & Goldwyn, R. (2000). A new method of evaluating attachment representations in young school-age children: The Manchester Child Attachment Story Task. Attachment and Human Development, 2, 42–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hald, S. (2012). Active music therapy, acquired brain injury, and interpersonal communication competences. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Aalborg University.Google Scholar
  20. Hibben, J. (1992). Music therapy in the treatment of families with young children. Music Therapy, 11, 8–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Holck, U. (2004). Turn-taking in music therapy with children with communication disorders. British Journal of Music Therapy, 18, 45–53.Google Scholar
  22. Holck, U. (2008). Kommunikativ musikalitet. Kognition and Pædagogik. Tidsskrift om den gode Læring, 18, 70–79.Google Scholar
  23. Iwaniec, D. (1995). The emotionally abused and neglected child: Identification, assessment, and intervention. Chichester, NH: Wiley.Google Scholar
  24. Jacobsen, S. (2012). Music therapy assessment and development of parental competences in families with children who have experienced emotional neglect: An investigation of the reliability and validity of the tool, Assessment of Parenting Competencies (APC). Unpublished PhD Thesis, Aalborg, Denmark: Aalborg University.
  25. Jacobsen, S., & Killén, K. (2014). Clinical application of music therapy assessment within the field of child Protection. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy,. doi: 10.1080/08098131.2014.908943.Google Scholar
  26. Jacobsen, S., & Wigram, T. (2007). Music therapy for the assessment of parental competences for children in need of care. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 16, 129–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Killén, K. (2010). Omsorgssvigt. Det teoretiske grundlag. Kbh, Dk: Hans Reitzels Forlag.Google Scholar
  28. Killén, K. (2012). Barndommen varer i generationer. Forebyggelse af omsorgssvigt. Kbh, DK: Hans Reitzels Forlag.Google Scholar
  29. Kim, J., Wigram, T., & Gold, C. (2009). Emotional, motivational and interpersonal responsiveness of children with autism in improvisational music therapy. Autism, 13, 389–409.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Knapp, M., & Hall, J. (2009). Nonverbal communication in human interaction: International Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  31. Miller, E. M. (1994). Musical intervention in family therapy. Music Therapy, 12, 39–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Molyneux, C. (2008). Music therapy as part of a multidisciplinary family assessment process. In K. Twyford & T. Watson (Eds.), Integrated team working (pp. 42–47). London: Jessica Kingsley Publisher.Google Scholar
  33. Narayan, A. J., Herbers, J. E., Plowman, E. J., Gewirtz, A. H., & Masten, A. S. (2012). Expressed emotion in homeless families: A methodological study of the five-minute speech sample. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 648–653.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oldfield, A. (2006). Interactive music therapy in child and family psychiatry. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  35. Oldfield, A., & Flower, C. (2008). Music therapy with children and their families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Osa, N. D. L., Granero, R., Penelo, E., Domenech, J. M., & Ezpeleta, L. (2013). Psychometric properties of the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire-Preschool Revision (APQ-Pr) in 3 year-old Spanish preschoolers. Journal of Child and Family Studies,. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9730-z.Google Scholar
  37. Pavlicevic, M. (2002). Dynamic interplay in clinical improvisation. Voices: A world forum for music therapy, 2.
  38. Pavlicevic, M. (2007). The Music Interaction Rating Scale (Schizophrenia;MIR(S)): Microanalysis of co-improvisation in music therapy with adults suffering from chronic schizophrenia. In T. Wosch & T. Wigram (Eds.), Microanalysis in music therapy (pp. 174–185). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  39. Schore, J., & Schore, A. (2008). Modern attachment theory: The central role of affect regulation in development and treatment. Clinical Social Work Journal, 36, 9–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Snyder, R., Shapiro, S., & Treleaven, D. (2013). Attachment theory and mindfulness. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 709–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stern, D. (1995). The motherhood constellation. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  42. Stern, D. (2000). The interpersonal world of the infant. New York, NY: Basic Books. (Original work published in 1985).Google Scholar
  43. Stern, D. (2010a). The issue of vitality. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 19, 88–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stern, D. (2010b). Forms of vitality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Storm, S. (2014). Research into the development of a voice assessment tool in music therapy. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Aalborg University.Google Scholar
  46. Trondalen, G., & Skårderud, F. (2007). Playing with affects: And the importance of “affect attunement”. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 16, 100–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Van Moreau, D., Ellgring, H., Goth, K., Poust, F., & Aldridge, D. (2010). Psychometric results of the Music Therapy Scale (MAKS) for measuring expression and communication. Music and Medicine, 2, 41–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weisner, T. S., & Fiese, B. H. (2011). Introduction to special section of the Journal of Family Psychology, advances in mixed methods in family psychology: Integrative and applied solutions for family science. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 795–798.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wigram, T. (2007). Event-based analysis of improvisation using the improvisational assessment profiles (IAPs). In T. Wosch & T. Wigram (Eds.), Microanalysis in music therapy (pp. 211–226). London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  50. Wigram, T., Bonde, L. O., & Nygaard-Pedersen, I. (2002). A comprehensive guide to music therapy: Theory, clinical practice, research and training. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.Google Scholar
  51. Winnicott, D. (1971). Play and reality. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  52. Wolf, C., & Peregoy, J. (2003). Assessing parenting capability. In K. Jordan (Ed.), Handbook of couple and family assessment (pp. 167–186). New York, NY: Nova Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  53. Young, R., Lennie, S., & Minnis, H. (2011). Children’s perception of parental emotional neglect and control and psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 52, 889–897.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborg ØDenmark
  2. 2.Hayes School of MusicAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

Personalised recommendations