Abstract

ABSTRACT Introduction Many music therapists propose that chaos, such as destructiveness and disintegration, could thwart music therapy group processes and should be minimised or resolved. From a paradoxical approach, however, chaos is understood as a transformative complement to ordered, formative music therapy experiences. The research in this paper explored how music therapists and adolescents could engage with chaos as a resource in music therapy groups. Method From a paradoxical approach, the music therapist--researcher facilitated two short-term group music therapy processes with nine young South Africans from under-resourced and often violent communities, referred for committing offences. The researcher utilised crystallisation, including constructivist grounded theory, participatory action research, and abduction, to analyse how group members could engage with chaotic group experiences. Findings, constructed through a cyclical process of data collection, analysis, and inclusion of group feedback, are presented in a matrix. Results The matrix shows how groups could utilise chaos to explore multiple possibilities for responding to challenges. They expressed themselves courageously and played unconventional group roles through their musicking and participation. They juggled paradoxical tensions between observational and active, integrative and disintegrative, engagement styles. This supported their transformation in the group, and potentially within the chaotic South African context. Discussion Music therapists can use the matrix to support adolescents in music therapy groups to engage with chaos as a transformative resource. They can accompany young people through offering holding, resources and collaborative support. When it is safe, music therapists may allow or encourage chaos that empowers adolescents to cope with challenges independently.

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