DR Grace Thompson

DR Grace Thompson


  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (Social communication)
  • Disability (Children and young people with disability)
  • Families and Children (Parent-child relationship)
  • Music Therapy (Children with developmental disabilities)



  • Dr Grace Thompson is a senior lecturer, researcher and registered music therapist. Dr Thompson completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2012 titled “Making a connection: randomised controlled trial of family centred music therapy for young children with autism spectrum disorder”. The study investigated child and parent outcomes following home-based music therapy sessions with preschool-aged children with autism and their mothers. Dr Thompson has worked with children, young people and families for over 20 years within the early childhood intervention sector, as well as within special education settings. As music therapist and team leader, Dr Thompson developed a collaborative approach to music therapy practice with families guided by ecological theories and family-centred philosophy. Her music therapy practice and research is therefore underpinned by a desire to support parent-child relationships through participating in engaging and mutually enjoyable musical play activities. Dr Thompson’s post-doctoral research focuses on music therapy with children with autism, disability, and delivered within ecologically oriented strategies. Dr Thompson’s research expertise is in mixed methods studies that have a translational focus. She is the co-editor of “Music Therapy with Families: Therapeutic Approaches and Theoretical Perspectives”, was Keynote speaker at the 2014 National Australian Music Therapy Conference, and a Spotlight speaker at the 2014 World Federation of Music Therapy Congress in Krems, Austria.   


Member of

  • ASfAR - Autism Research Community. PhD student member 2010 -
  • Early Childhood Intervention Association. General Member 2000 -
  • Australian Music Therapy Association. Registered Music Therapist 1994 -
  • Australian Music Therapy Association. President 2014 - 2017


Selected publications


Additional Grant Information

  • - 2016, January. Melbourne Neuroscience Institute Interdisciplinary Seed Funding scheme (co-supported by Hallmark Disability Research Initiative). Project titled: Optimising visual attention in children with autism spectrum disorder: a comparison of singing and speech.   


Education and training

  • GCUT, University of Melbourne 2016
  • PHD, University of Melbourne 2012
  • BMUS(THRP), University of Melbourne 1993

Awards and honors

  • Project title: Contemporary music therapy training: Designing best practice teaching and learning resources to develop clinical reasoning skills., Faculty Special Studies Project (Long), 2018
  • Faculty Teaching Award, 2015
  • Ruth Bright award for excellence in conference presentations, Australian Music Therapy Association, 2011



Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Dr Thompson's research expertise is in mixed method designs that are applicable to real world clinical contexts. Graduate Research Supervision at The University of Melbourne: - Masters (complete) “Music therapy performances with pre-adolescent children and families living in crisis: an interpretative phenomenological analysis.” Fairchild, Thompson, McFerran. 2013-2014. http://hdl.handle.net/11343/44207 - Masters (complete). “Music therapy teaming and learning: how transdisciplinary experience shapes practice in an autism specialist school.” Arns, Thompson, McFerran. 2016-2018. http://hdl.handle.net/11343/212464 - PhD (complete) “How do pre-adolescent children use music as a health resource throughout their experience of living in crisis?” Fairchild, McFerran, Thompson. 2015-2018. - PhD (complete) “Exploring parents experiences and perceptions of singing and using their voice with their baby in a neonatal unit: An interpretative phenomenological analysis.” McLean, Thompson, McFerran. 2014-2018. - Masters (ongoing). Preliminary title: "Developing a music therapy assessment protocol for people with complex and multiple disabilities." Churchill, Thompson. 2018-ongoing - Masters (ongoing). Preliminary title: "Exploring the meaning of community music therapy for adults with severe and profound intellectual disabilities." Cameron, Thompson. 2018-ongoing