Ingeborg Nebelung: From goof to intersubjectivity. Creating a musical space for connection.

Ingeborg Nebelung


From goof to intersubjectivity. Creating a musical space for connection.


As humanistic and resource-oriented music therapists, we see it as a core task to always take into consideration the client’s interest, age, functional level and emotional needs. But what when the video you just recorded shows that you don’t? And that the client clearly doesn’t understand, clearly shows confusion, and clearly has no idea what you are trying to make him do? Even experienced music therapists make these mistakes. 

This paper consists of 3 small video clips of the music therapist and a 15-year old client with a diagnose of autism. The first clip shows a clear mismatch between the activity the music therapist offers, and the client’s ability to understanding what this is all about. The second clip shows a different approach from the music therapist, using imitation of sounds and turn-taking, taking into consideration the client’s interest and functional level. The third clip is a beautiful moment of intersubjectivity and acknowledgement, the lovely companionship that may arise when we are just being together – with no tasks, chores or demands.

The paper explores how the various approaches from the music therapist bring forth various responses from the client, and seeks to show that the therapist’s mistakes made in music therapy are repairable. 

Key words: acknowledgement, recognition, primary intersubjectivity, companionship