Seeking Synchrony Through Screens: Establishing Meaningful Therapeutic Rapport Through Telehealth Music Therapy

Mx Brede Davis1,2

1Melton Specialist School, Melton, Australia, 2The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

For many healthcare professionals and students, responding to the sudden need for telehealth services in 2020 involved rapidly shifting established methods of practice to a setting that had been relatively unaddressed in existing literature. A crucial consideration here was how to establish, develop, or maintain therapeutic rapport in this context. Also relevant was considering how meaningful interpersonal connection can be experienced by participants in telehealth therapy, and how to facilitate this without shared physical presence.

This presentation addresses therapeutic rapport in terms of what it is, why it matters, what makes it meaningful, and how that translates to an online setting. This includes discussion of some experiences within therapeutic methods that typically support rapport development, and proposal of a generalisable approach to translating in-person methods to online settings. Examples from practice demonstrate how this applied to six telehealth music therapy sessions between a final year music therapy student and an individual living in residential aged care during Melbourne’s initial COVID-19 lockdown period. Final reflections consider implications for future practice, including how experiences of meaningful therapeutic rapport in telehealth therapy may lead to enhanced interpersonal connection and therapeutic potential in-person.


Brede Davis is a University of Melbourne new graduate Registered Music Therapist with clinical experience spanning a range of community, educational, medical, and residential contexts. She is currently working with young people across multiple settings in Narrm/Melbourne. Brede intends for her work as an RMT to contribute to wider goals of increasing access to collaborative healthcare and decreasing stigma surrounding health diversity.

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