Interview with Dr. Cheryl Dileo on "Ethics in Music Therapy Education"

Please click the video to watch. Transcript provided in the post!


Interview with Dr. Cheryl Dileo on "Ethics in Music Therapy Education"

Interview date: February 15, 2022

hosted by Dr. Jin Hyung Lee


Lee: Thank you for watching this interview presentation about essential and global topics in music therapy education and training hosted by the Education and Certification Commission for the World Federation of Music Therapy. My name is Jin Lee and it is my great pleasure and honor to invite Dr. Cheryl Dileo to speak to us about ethics in music therapy education.


Lee: Let me briefly introduce Dr. Cheryl Dileo. Dr. Dileo is the Emerita Carnell Profesor of Music Therapy, founder of the Quality of Life Research Center At Temple University. She has held various leadership roles and has served as president of the World Federation of Music Therapy, and National Association for Music Therapy. She has authored and edited 15 books and over 100 book chapters and research publications. Even after her retirement from Temple, she continues to provide lectures all around the world contributing to the profession of music therapy worldwide including Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. And most importantly, considering today’s topic, she is the author of ‘Ethical Thinking in Music Therapy’ second edition in 2021. Thank you Dr. Dileo for agreeing to share your insight about music therapy ethics with us today.


Dileo: It's a pleasure to be here. Jin, again, being involved with the World Federation, I served for 18 years as a member of the World Federation so it feels very comfortable for me. And I'm talking about one of my favorite topics, which is ethics. And also, I'm talking with one of my favorite people in the world, you, so it's a pleasure!


Lee: Yeah, as I look back, the course, music therapy ethics, was one of my most favorite course that I took from you at Temple and it has been over 20 years! You know, a lot of time has passed! So, a lot has changed ever since then, and many audience will understand the importance of ethics in the profession of music therapy. Could you explain how you got interested in developing ethics as a content area in music therapy curriculum?


Dileo: It started back in the 70s. My professor, my mentor Charles Braswell was very insistent on including ethics in the curriculum. And so my first publication, my first book, I co-authored it with him and Tony Decuir, and we presented our curriculum at Loyola University and ethics was part of that. And Charles Braswell was a very important mentor for me throughout my life. And as I was working on my PhD at Louisiana State University, We were, and Tony was also, we were talking about dissertation topics and Charles said to me, you should focus on ethics. And so I did, that was my dissertation, and I graduated in 1981 with that more than 40 years ago. And it's been my passion ever since.


Lee: How interesting! Okay, so you have worked for so many years in the education field. What are some potential ethical issues that need to be considered in educational settings? Perhaps, you could illustrate with examples or experiences?


Dileo: Okay, first of all, I can say that there are numerous ethical issues in running a music therapy program, in dealing with students and dealing with University. Almost every aspect of working and teaching students has ethical implications. There is also the other issue of teaching ethics. And what should be the content of teaching ethics from the university's perspective. So, the many issues that I've encountered range from how we advertise, how we talk about the program. How we inform students of the expectations of the program because sometimes students are surprised about what they have to do. Once they are in the program, if they're not informed in advance. Also there needs to be ethical issues involved with what the requirements are for entry into a program that that has to be thought through very carefully. So that there's fairness in who is accepted into programs. There are two big issues in competency. One is the competency of the faculty. We both know that music therapy is so broad that faculty cannot have expertise in every single area and so we need to compensate in various ways for our students, so that they are trained properly in all of the areas for which they may potentially work. And that they have some level of skill that can transfer into those areas. So we do the best we can, but at the same time, faculty have to do not be satisfied with their knowledge. They have to look and engage in continuing education to keep update. All of their courses have to be up to date which means that the constant process of studying for faculty, a constant requirement for study.


And then on the other hand, there is the issue of competency of students. And all of us who are faculty have encountered students who have limited competency. We can certainly, when it comes to skill level, we can certainly help students acquire the skills, the musical skills and the therapy skills that they need. But what is always challenging is the emotional, interpersonal types of confidence or lack of confidence that we see in students. How do we deal with it? How long can we give them the benefit of the doubt? And at one point if students are not going to obtain the competence, the personal and interpersonal competence that they need to be therapist or the empathy that they need to be therapist, at what point do we not allow them to continue in the program or do we just let them continue and let it work out in an internship program after they finished the academic. So there are many problems and ethical issues there.


And another big issue is the limits of experiential training. We know how valuable experiential training is, but the faculty have the ethical obligation to establish boundaries of experiential training so that does not become therapy. And because the faculty have powerful roles with students, in essence determining their future, so we can't take advantage of that and expect to share all their personal information with us and then make decisions about the students. So it's very complicated and it's our responsibility, ethical responsibility to establish boundaries of experiential training in the fairest way. Those are just some of them, but you can see that there are so many!


Lee: Just some of them, but listening to your illustration of potential ethical issues, It brings me all these memories that I have with students and those challenging moments, and oh such a difficult decision making. So, you talked about developing music therapy course for ethics. So if you were to advise music therapy educators about incorporating ethics into their curriculum, what kind of things should they consider and incorporate?


Dileo: Oh, I love this topic Jin. I think that ethics education has to be multiple levels, on multiple levels, for the students throughout the curriculum. So, most importantly there needs to be a separate unit or a course on ethics. Students learn the basics of ethics, they learn how to be reflective about ethical issues and they get the chance to practice solving ethical problems. So that has very clear content And ethics is so broad, ethics is such a broad topic, ranging from the ethics of social networking to confidentiality, dealing with colleagues, professional relationships, to dealing with the community. to advertising for music therapists in private practice and the issues can be very separate and don't necessary overlap.

So it's important that students get an idea of the breadth of ethics within a particular unit of a course or I recommend an entire course and at the same time, ethics has to be taught in every course. and in supervision and in clinical training. Ethical issues will come up and faculty need to take the opportunities when they do come up to clarify, These are ethical issues and how students might go about solving these problems. So a course, and it's in every course.


Lee: I really like that! It should be, and ethical thinking doesn't develop right away and (it develops) at various, different levels of students development. And it just takes such a long time.

Dileo: Yes, definitely! And if you want me to talk about ethical thinking a little, I will! It's a very complex, an integral type of process that involves both thinking, critical thinking gathering information and researching, consulting. And also the most important part is personal awareness, self-awareness. There are so many personal issues that interfere with our ethical decision-making. And so I think most importantly, faculty have to work with students and professionals have to also do their own work to be aware of those of those issues and biases and assumptions that interfere with your ability ability to do good ethical thinking. Also it's very important that there be a systematic process for solving ethical problem that there needs to be a process. There needs to be a model, with various steps, that therapist can can go through and know that all the considerations that are possible are given to this particular, ethical dilemma.


Lee: So it requires such an extensive and integral level of thinking, and multiple layers of perspectives.


Dileo: Yes, both personal, cognitive and emotional. Because many ethical dilemmas make us become very upset or angry, And that can interfere with with decisions we make and I think it's really important to understand in terms of the value of ethics. There can be students, you know, have many different areas of skills, but the most important I believe is the ability to engage in ethical thinking in an adequate way because a student can be a good musician, the students can be very adequate at music therapy Interventions, the student can be, do well interpersonally with colleagues etc., with faculty and with other students. But if there are unethical, nothing else matters. It is the most fundamental issue in teaching I believe, and in practice. It's the most fundamental issue because without ethics, nothing else is important. Nothing else matters. And there is the reason that is because there's always the potential when one is unethical that harm is done.


Lee: Which can last for long lifetime.


Dileo: Absolutely!


Lee: And when I think back to some of the ethical issues that I was confronted with the big challenge seems to be the controlling of emotional reactions because it seems to always counter the ethical thinking process.


Dileo: I think that we continue to become more aware of also the enormous impact of culture has on our ethical decision making. The culture and values of the client, versus the culture and values of the therapist or the facility or the community. So ethical dilemmas often result when there's a conflict in responsibilities, the therapist has responsibilities to the client and the employer at the same time, and the dilemma may occur because there's a conflict in in those responsibilities. And so I think that culture is added is adding another layer of consideration.


Lee: Absolutely! Such multicultural issues everywhere. not just in the state. and thinking about what you've shared with seems like self care in therapist is such an important aspect in order to remain ethical. What would you say about that?


Dileo: Well, self-care feeds into competence. Self care is intimately related with a person's competence. And so, competence is a primary ethical issue. So when therapist do not take care of themselves, they can't do their best for clients and

and it can, depending on the the extent of the self-care, it seriously interferes with the client's ability to work with the therapist's ability to work with a client. But also that is where there's a potential for either neglect or harm. The self-care is essential, but the therapist has to be self-aware to know that they're not working as they should. So, lack of self care also has to be accompanied by self awarenessand the courage to do something about it. to engage in ways that will involve good self care. And also, I think that as human beings, therapists have lots of problems.


Lee: Don't we all!


Dileo: Many problems! And various, some problems are severe! There are interpersonal problems, losses or disappointments that are very very difficult. And therapists have to be aware of how their life events influence their ability to be competent. with their clients.


Lee: It's too bad that we only have just short time to hear about your insights, but it has been very helpful for me to hear your interview and I really appreciate your time with us today. I hope we get another chance in the future to have you share more about this topic. Any closing remarks you would like to share?


Dileo: Well, I think ethics has to be elevated to a more prominent and important place in our profession.


Lee: Agree!


Dileo: Absolutely, and we need to have continued education at conferences and in books and articles etc, for our profession, besides our students. So, we'll have more of these session! and Jin, it's been my pleasure and I thank you for asking me to do this.


Lee: Thank you Dr. Dileo, I really appreciate it!


Dileo: My pleasure!