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Emeritus Professor Amelia Oldfield

Emeritus Professor

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR)

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries
Areas of Expertise:
Music therapy
Research Supervision:

Amelia worked as a clinical music therapist in Cambridge for 40 years, and taught on the Anglia Ruskin MA music therapy training course for 25 years. She is a member of the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR). She officially retired from clinical work and from teaching at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in September 2019, but has taken on the role of Emeritus Professor at ARU from then onwards. She currently divides her time between clinical music therapy supervision, music therapy teaching and research.

[email protected]


In 1994, Amelia co-initiated the two-year MA Music Therapy course at Anglia Ruskin University. Since then, she has given weekly music therapy lectures and workshops on her special areas of clinical expertise which include autism, developmental difficulties, child psychiatry, working with families and diagnostic assessments. She also taught single line clinical improvisation and is particularly interested in encouraging students to use orchestral instruments in their music therapy work.

In her new role as Professor Emeritus, Amelia continues to act as first and second supervisor for music therapy PhD students at ARU, has been writing a case study for the ARU REF, provides clinical and research supervision for practicing music therapists, and lectures both at ARU and at other Universities in the UK and internationally. She is currently working on a new book about music therapy groups for children.

Amelia has completed four music therapy research investigations. In December 2012 she organised a successful, two-day conference at Anglia Ruskin University, during which 50 speakers from across the world presented papers and workshops. More recently, she helped to organise a two-day conference held in September 2019 which brought together around 150 ex-students from the ARU MA music therapy course and show-cased the excellent music therapy work that they have been carrying out during the last 25 years.

She has also published numerous articles and eight books, two of which focus on her specialised music therapy approach with children and their families which she developed through clinical practice and research.

As co-editor of four recent books, Amelia has encouraged and supported other music therapists to write about clinical approaches with families and working in schools. One of these books, published in 2015, gathered together case studies from 57 music therapists all over the world, reporting on how they used their first orchestral instrument in their work. Three of her books have been translated into other languages including Russian, Greek, Japanese, Korean and French. Amelia is regularly asked to present her work both in the UK and abroad and has been invited to give 16 keynote speeches at music therapy conferences.

Research interests
  • Music therapy and families
  • Music therapy with children with autism
  • The use of orchestral instruments in music therapy
  • Diagnostic music therapy
  • Combining music therapy and drama therapy techniques
  • Music therapy follow-up projects
  • Music therapy with groups of children
Areas of research supervision
  • First supervisor for six PhD students at ARU who successfully completed. Currently first supervisor for two further PhD students.
  • Has examined six music therapy PhDs, two at Roehampton University, one at Jyväskylä University, Finland, and three at ARU.
  • External examiner for two PhD Elaborate proposals at Aalborg University, Denmark.
  • External examiner for three Masters Exegesis for the Master of Music Therapy Programme in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • 2010–2014: research consultant for a three-year music therapy research investigation in Northern Ireland in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, which has received a £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Research Fund.
  • 2013 - 2017: Research consultant and clinical supervisor on two arms of the Time-A trials in Cambridge. This was a large international RCT music therapy research investigation led by Christan Gold in Bergen, Norway. Two separate sources of income were generated for these trials.
  • PhD Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MPhil Music Therapy, City University, London
  • Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (music therapy)
Memberships, editorial boards
  • Registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Member of the Advisory Editorial Panel of the British Journal of Music Therapy from 1990 onwards
  • Member of the Editorial Board for the Australian Journal of Music Therapy from 2009 onwards
Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange
  • Chairperson of the Association of Professional Music Therapists in 1987 and 1988
  • Between 2000 and 2002, on the Scientific Committee to prepare the 10th World Music Therapy Conference held in Oxford in 2002
  • March 2011–ongoing: on the Advisory Panel for Sing and Grow UK, which became CHROMA in 2014
  • Spring and summer 2013: on the Scientific Committee to prepare the Congrès International de Haut Niveau: Autismes et Musicothérapie; Réflections humanistes et scientifiques, Corse, France
  • 2013/2014 invited onto the Scientific Committee to prepare the British Association of Music Therapy National Conference held in Birmingham in February 2014
  • Since 2010: visiting professor for music therapy training course at the Fachhochschule in Würzburg, Germany (one or two visits every two years, teaching in German)
  • Since 2009: visiting professor for music therapy training course at the Université de Montpellier, France  (one or two weeks a year, teaching in French)
  • 2016 - 2017: invited to edit and produce the first 'themed' British journal of music therapy on “music therapy with families”. This involved finding relevant authors, editing their articles and writing an introduction to the journal.
  • 2017 - 2019: planning and carrying out a music therapy follow-up project, interviewing 10 families who received music therapy from Amelia 16 years previously. The interviews were filmed and a documentary film (“Operation Syncopation”) was made juxtaposing excerpts from videos of the original music therapy sessions and the interviews with the same families 16 years later. The film was directed by Max Thomson who also had received music therapy treatment from Amelia, with his father, 22 years previously.
  • February and March 2020: Amelia was invited to work as visiting Professor at the University of Khon – Kaen, Thailand. Gave seven two hour lectures / workshops to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Also ran a three day workshop for music therapists and people with an interest in music therapy and a two day music therapy workshop to music therapists and music therapy students at the Mahidol University in Bangkok.
  • July 2020: was interviewed by Luke Annesley for “Music Therapy Conversations”; the podcast of the British Association for Music Therapy. The interview is available to listen to on-line (on Utube) and lasts 58 minutes.


  • Video: Oldfield, A., Macdonald, R. and Nudds, J., 1999. Training as a Music Therapist: the MA in Music Therapy at APU. Received a Commendation from the Royal Television Society, East Anglia, Non-Broadcast Video of the Year 1999-2000 Award
  • Video: Oldfield, A. and Nudds, J., 2002. Joshua and Barry – Music Therapy with a Partially Sighted Little Boy with Cerebral Palsy. Winner of the Royal Television Society, East Anglia, Non-Broadcast Video of the Year 2002-03 Award
  • May 2011, the CIMTR Canadian International Music Therapy Research Centre Award for Outstanding International Music Therapy Research from the Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario Canada
  • July 2014, the Clinical Impact Award from the World Federation of Music Therapists
  • October 2017: the documentary film: 'Operation Syncopation; Long Term Follow-Up Study on Previously Successful Music Therapy Interventions' directed by Maxim Thompson, was premiered at the October Cambridge film festival, and won the Silver Punt 2017 Audience Award for Best Documentary. This film was based on interviews carried out in 2017 of families who received music therapy treatment from Amelia Oldfield 16 years previously.
Selected recent publications

Oldfield, A., Carr, A. (eds.), 2018. Collaborations within and between dramatherapy and music therapy: experiences, challenges and opportunities in clinical and training contexts (London: Jessica Kingsley).

Oldfield, A., Tomlinson, J., Loombe, D. (eds.), 2015. Flute, Accordion or Clarinet? Using the characteristic of our instruments in music therapy (London: Jessica Kingsley).

Tomlinson, J. Derrington, P, Oldfield, A. (eds.), 2012. Music Therapy in Schools: Working with Children of all Ages in Mainstream and Special Education (London: Jessica Kingsley).

Holmes, J., Oldfield, A., Polichroniadis, M. (eds.)., 2011. Creating Change for Complex Children and their Families; A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Multi-Family Work (London: Jessica Kingsley).

Oldfield, A., Flower, C. (eds.), 2008. Music Therapy with Children and their Families. (London: Jessica Kingsley). Korean translation completed in 2014.

Oldfield, A., 2006. Interactive Music Therapy, A Positive Approach - Music therapy at a Child Development Centre (London: Jessica Kingsley). French Translation published by l’Harmatan in 2012.

Oldfield, A., 2006. Interactive Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry - Clinical practice, research and teaching (London: Jessica Kingsley).

Bean, J., Oldfield, A., 1991. Pied Piper - Musical Activities to Develop Basic Skills (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Re-printed by Jessica Kingsley publishers in 2001; translated into Russian (two editions), Japanese and Greek.

Articles and Book Chapters

Oldfield, A., Blauth, L., Finnemann, J. and Casey, O., 2019. Clinical Trials…. Are music therapists deluding themselves? In Dunn, H., Coombes, L., Maclean, E., Mottram, H., Nugent, J. (eds.), 2019. A spectrum of approaches: music therapy and autism across the lifespan (London:Jessica Kingsley), pp. 35-56.

Oldfield, A., 2018. The music therapist’s own instrument. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 27:5, pp. 337-338. doi: 10.1080/08098131.2018.1508058

Oldfield, A., 2018. Music Therapy and Depression in Primary aged Children; Reflections on Case Work in a Residential Child and Family Psychiatric Unit. In Waller, D., Scoble, S., Arts Therapies for Depression (London: Routledge), pp. 13-29.

Bieleninik, Ł., Geretsegger, M., Mössler, K., Assmus, J., Thompson, G., Gattino, G., Elefant, C., Gottfried, T., Igliozzi, R., Muratori, F., Suvini, F., Kim, J., Crawford, M., Odell-Miller, H., Oldfield, A., Casey, Ó., Finnemann, J, Carpente, J., Park, A., Grossi, E., Gold, C., 2017. Effectiveness of improvisational music therapy versus enhanced standard care for children with autism spectrum disorder: The TIME-A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 318(6), pp. 525-535.

Tuomi, K., Esa, A., Oldfield, A., 2017. Literature Review of 'Early Childhood Music Therapy Between 1990-2012'. Voices: A World Forum For Music Therapy, 17(2). doi:10.15845/voices.v17i2.888

Oldfield, A., 2017. The first 'themed' British journal of music therapy: An introduction to music therapy with families. British Journal of Music Therapy, 31(1), pp. 5-11. ISSN 1359-4575

Oldfield, A, 2017. Profile 25, Amelia Oldfield, England. In Moreno, J. (ed.), 2017. The lives of Music Therapists: Profiles in Creativity, Volume 1 (USA: Barcelona Publishers), pp. 334-357. E-book only E: ISBN:9781945411205

Oldfield, A., 2017. Music Therapy with Families in a Psychiatric Children’s Unit. In Lindahl Jacobsen, S., Thompson, G. (eds.), 2017. Models of Music Therapy with Families, (London: Jessica Kingsley), pp. 72-91.

Oldfield, A., 2016. Emotional Expression in Family Music Therapy. In Konieczna, L. (ed.), 2016. Emotional Expression and Music Therapy (Katowice: The Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music Press), pp. 115-128.

Oldfield, A., 2016. Family approaches in music therapy with young children. In Edwards, J. (ed.), 2016. The Oxford Handbook of Music Therapy (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 158-175.

Oldfield, A., 2016. The Future of Music Therapy with Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In Dileo, C. (ed.), 2016. Envisioning the future of music therapy. )USA: Temple University Arts and Quality of Life Research Center), pp. 96-103.

Oldfield, A., 2015. 35 years as a music therapist – the best job in the world…, Music Therapy Today, 11(1), pp. 150-161.

Oldfield, A., Bell, K., Poole, J .A., 2012. Three Families and Three Music therapists; Reflections on Short-term Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 21(3), pp. 250-267.

Oldfield, A., 2011. Exploring Issues of Control through Interactive Improvised Music Making. In Meadows, T. (ed.), 2011. Developments in Music Therapy Practice: Case Examples (USA: Barcellona Publishers), pp. 104-118.

Oldfield, A., 2011. Parents' Perceptions of Being in Music Therapy with their Children. In Edwards, J. (ed.), 2011. Music in Parent-Infant Programmes (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 58-72.

Haire, N., Oldfield, A., 2009. Adding Humour to the Music Therapist's tool-kit: Reflections on its Role in Child Psychiatry. British Journal of Music Therapy, 23(1), pp. 27-34.

Oldfield, A., 2008. Supervision of Music Therapists Working with Children in Schools. In Odell-Miller, H. and Richards, E. (eds.), 2008. Supervision of Music Therapy. (London: Routledge), pp. 135-151.

Oldfield, A., Franke C., 2005. Improvised Songs and Stories in Music Therapy Diagnostic Assessments at a Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry - A Music Therapist's and a Psychotherapist's Perspective. In Wigram, T., Baker, F. (eds.), 2005. Songwriting, Methods, Techniques and Clinical Applications for Music Therapy Clinicians, Educators and Students (London: Jessica Kingsley), pp. 24-44.

Recent presentations and conferences

November 2019: Presented a joint paper and film excerpts with Max Thompson (film director and past client): “Music therapy follow-up project - 16 years on; excerpts from the documentary film: Operation Syncopation” at the Key Changes Music Therapy Annual Conference 2019: Music Therapy - joining the dots.

August 2019: Presented a paper: “Musiktherapie mit autistischen Kindern und ihren Familien” and a Workshop: “Musikalische Aktivitäten mit Gruppen von Kindern mit Verhaltungsstörungen” (in German) at the Martin-Luther-Universität, Halle-Wittenberg, Treffpunkt Musiktherapie, zum Thema Interaction und Kommunikation.

June 2019: Presented a paper and took part in two round-tables at the 11th European Music Therapy Conference held at Aalborg University, Denmark; 26-30 June 2019. Paper: “A follow-up project of music therapy with young children with autism and their families; looking back and looking forward”. Round-tables: “Music therapy and autism: a spectrum of approaches across the lifespan; what does this mean for the profession?”; and: “High functioning autism - do we need a different music therapy approach?”

November 2018: Presented a paper: “Music Therapy Diagnostic Assessments and Song Stories” at a Music Therapy Conference celebrating 10 years of the music therapy programme in Katowice, Poland.

November 2018: Presented a paper: “Music Therapy with Families with Young Children with Autism; 16 Years Later” at the 2018 Annual Conference of the American Music Therapy Association: “Music Therapy for a Growing World”.

September 2018 (Keynote): 4. Würzburger Tagung zur Musiktherapie bei Behinderung und Demenz, Würzburg, Germany. Musiktherapie mit Kleinkindern mit Autismus und ihren Familien: 16 Jahre später, was die Familien berichten und gelernt haben (presented in German).

June 2018: invited to present 2 seminars at the Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei, Taiwan, entitled: “Interactive music therapy with young children and their families” and: “Exploring issues of control in improvised music therapy”. Also gave two three-hour workshops in the same venue entitled: “Individual and group activities in interactive music therapy” and: “The use of orchestral and first study instruments in music therapy”.

February 2018: presented a paper: “Interviews with Families who received music therapy treatment 16 years ago: 17 years later... A music therapy follow up project with families with children with autism” at the third BAMT (British Association for Music Therapy) Conference, 16-18 February, Barbican, London. Also showed the full length documentary film “Operation Syncopation; Long Term Follow-Up Study on Previously Successful Music Therapy Interventions”, based on this project, at another time during this conference.

November 2017: invited to present a paper: “Musiktherapie mit Kleinkindern und ihren Familien: Eine Partnerschaft, um die Entwicklung von Kommunikation zu ermöglichen” (in German) at the Internationales und interdisziplinäres Symposium: Sprache, Kommunikation und Musik in der kindlichen Entwicklung, organised by the Kinderzentrum München, on the 24.11.2017.

March 2017: Joint presentation by the film consultant, Bill Thompson, the film director, Max Thompson, the music therapist, Emma Davies and Amelia at the: International Consortium for Music Therapy Research Symposium Open Seminar held at St Catherine's College, Cambridge "Interviews with Families who received music therapy treatment 16 years ago: the making of a documentary".

Oldfield, A. 2016: (Keynote) 36 years as a music therapist with children and their families in the UK, lessons learnt and suggestions for the future, Inaugural music therapy conference: Music, Early Intervention, and Special Needs: Perspectives on Habilitation, Education, Sensory Integration and Well-being, Singapore, September 2016.

Oldfield, A. 2016: (Keynote) Stories in Music Therapy, II International Conference: Music, therapy, education, symbol, expression, perception, Akademia Muzyczna Im Karola Szymano, Katowice, Poland, 11-12 July 2016.

Oldfield, A., Tomlinson, J. and Loombe, D. 2016: Flute, accordion or clarinet? Supporting music therapists to use their first instrument in their clinical practice, 90 minute workshop, 10th European Music Therapy Conference, Vienna, Austria.

Oldfield, A. 2016: Intensive music therapy for young children with autistic spectrum disorder – A viable alternative?, Chair of 90 minute Roundtable at the National British Association of Music Therapy Conference (BAMT), in Glasgow.

Oldfield, A. 2016, Le rôle de l’écoute dans la musicothérapie active avec les enfants et leur famille, (presented in French) L’écoute en musicothérapie, Faculté de Medecine, Nantes, France.

Oldfield, A. 2015, Expression vocale en musicothérapie avec de jeunes enfants autistes et leurs familles (presented in French), Emergences du langage, Conference de la CIPPA (Coordination Internationalles de Psychothérapeutes, Psychanalystes et membres associés s’occupant de Personnes avec Autismes) Paris, France.

Oldfield, A. 2015, The future of Music Therapy and Autism, Envisioning the Future of Music Therapy, at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

Oldfield, A. 2014, (special guest lecture) Music therapy with children with autistic spectrum disorder, focusing on the role of the music and the role of the relationships, 14th National Conference of the Japanese Music Therapy Association in Nagoya, Japan.

Oldfield, A. 2014, Short-Term Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry; What are the Benefits?, 14th World Congress of Music Therapy, Cultural Diversity in Music Therapy Practice, Research and Education, Krems, Austria.

Oldfield, A. and Loombe, D. 2014 (workshop) Calling all Orchestral Music Therapists….An Exploration of How Music Therapists use their own Instrument in Clinical Practice. Counterpoints: Music Therapy Practice in the 21st Century: First British Association for Music Therapy Conference, Birmingham, UK.

Oldfield, A. 2013 L’Intérêt de l’accompagnement des parents et des enfants autistes en musicothérapie (presented in French) Congrès International de Haut Niveau: Autismes et Musicothérapie; Réflections humanistes et scientifiques, Corse, France.

Oldfield, A. and O’Hanrahan, A. 2012 Movement, Pre-verbal Play and Music to Connect with a 9 Year Old Girl with Autism and Severe Aggression, Music Therapy and Dramatherapy with Children in Educational and Other Settings, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

Oldfield, A., 2012. Musicothérapie: un espace de rencontre avec le sujet en souffrance (presented in French). Troisiemes Assises du Médico-social, Institutions et Créativité, November 2012, Nîmes, France.

Olfield, A., 2012 (keynote). Musiktherapie für das Kind und seine Familie Warum? (presented in German). Erste Würzburger Tagund zur Musiktherapie bei Behinderung und Demenz, September 2012, Würzburg, Germany.

Oldfield, A., 2012. Music Therapy with Pre-School Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their Families: Investigating Clinical Practice. International Centre for Research in Arts Therapies (ICRA) Conference, July 2012, Conway Hall, London.

Olfield, A., 2012 (keynote). Musicothérapie Espace d'Expression Émotionnelle (presented in French), February 2012, Public Presentation at the University of Montpellier (Paul Valery).

Oldfield, A., 2011 (keynote). Play and Humour in Music Therapy with Children and their Families. Music Therapy: the Power of Play, Key Changes Music Therapy, annual conference, March 2011. 

Oldfield, A., 2010. Breaking communication barriers. TEDx Mediterranean, October 2010, Cannes, France.