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Leanne O'Keeffe

PhD researcher

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research

Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Creative Industries

Indicative thesis title: The effect of music therapy on behavioural concerns which impact quality of life for children with Dravet syndrome

[email protected]


Supervisory team: Dr Jonathan Pool (1st), Dr Simon Cork (2nd), Prof Sanjay Sisodiya (3rd)

Leanne decided that she wanted to become a music therapist at the age of 15. She studied for her first degree at The University of Birmingham, later completing an MA in Music Therapy at ARU in 2013.

Leanne joined a local music therapy charity a term before qualification and has had a broad career to date, working with children of all ages and abilities in a wide range of clinical settings.

Her clinical expertise involves respite, outreach, end of life and family work in children’s hospices and employment in special needs schools, focusing specifically on autism (ASD) and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). Leanne has also worked in an inner-city mainstream primary setting providing crisis intervention and mental health support.

In addition to her work as a music therapist, Leanne is a BAMT approved Supervisor and Visiting Lecturer in Music Therapy at The University of Birmingham.

In 2022 Leanne began studying for a PhD at ARU's Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research. This PhD is being funded by Dravet Syndrome UK and it explores the impact of music therapy on quality of life for children with this rare neurological disorder.

Leanne hopes that going forward the combination of work and study will aid the furthering of her career and clinical expertise. She is keen to make an original contribution to the music therapy profession, researching an area that she is passionate about.

Leanne is a keen saxophonist and clarinettist.

Research interests
  • Complex and challenging behaviours
  • Child and adolescent mental health
  • Trauma and attachment
  • Rare diseases and disorders
  • Hospice work (babies and children)
  • MA Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University (2013)
  • BMus (Hons) Bachelor of Music, University of Birmingham (2010)
Selected recent publications

O’Keeffe, L. (2020) 'Truly meeting Caleb: A detailed account of the impact of long-term music therapy for a boy with profound and multiple learning disabilities', PMLD Link: Sharing ideas and information, 32(2), pp. 25-27.