Julie Ørnholt Bøtker

Julie Ørnholt Bøtker

Julie Ørnholt Bøtker

AAU profile


BA in Music Therapy, AAU (2003)
MA in Music Therapy, AAU (2006)
BA in Rhythmic music and dance, Vocal Studies, Royal Academy of Music (2009)
Clinical music therapist 2005-2020.
External lecturer at the Music Therapy Training Programme (2013-2020)
Musician and vocalist in various constellations.

Current positions

Full time PhD fellow at the Department of Music Therapy, AAU since 1st of February 2020
Lecturer in Voicework at the music therapy training programme, AAU.

Doctoral study


The concept of authenticity and its meaning and applicability within music therapy, music teaching and music performance within a family-oriented context.


Associate Professor, Stine Lindahl Jacobsen, Department of Music Therapy, Aalborg University, Denmark


The purpose of the PhD is to investigate music therapists’, music teachers’ and music performers’ experiences of the phenomenon authenticity // inauthenticity when performing their professional duties, and how this concept could be of use for the music therapeutic theory and practice.

The study serves as follow-up research within the MuFaSa-research project (Musik/Familier/Samspil // Music/Families/Interplay) lead by Stine Lindahl Jacobsen in cooperation with PhD, associate professor Ulla Holck and PhD, assistant professor Gustavo Gattino, and is therefore primarily investigating the experiences of music therapists, music teachers and musicians working with families.

The aim of the study is to search for a deeper understanding of this sensual and nonverbal phenomenon, and search for patterns and similarities within and across disciplines.

Research questions:

  • How can the concept of authenticity be defined and understood within the three different professions of music therapists, music teachers and music performers in a family-oriented context? Including; What could the benefits and challenges be for the professionals working with families in relation to the concept of authenticity?
  • How is an experience of being authentically present as a music therapist, music teacher or music performer connected to the experience of the interaction with the participating families and vice versa?
  • How can the experiences and reflections from professionals within the three musical professions broaden and inform disciplines, on a practical and theoretical level, based on the concept of authenticity?


Writing of epoché, in order to clarify own experiences with authenticity, and further investigating the epoché through a repertory grid interview.

Conducting preliminary semi-structured interviews with 3 music professionals (music therapists, musicians and music teachers). Transcription and analysis.

Conducting semi-structured interviews with the music professionals participating in the MuFaSa-research project, that is; focus group interviews and also solo interviews with viewing of video excerpts from the MuFaSa-project. Transcription and analysis.  

The goal of the analysis is not to develop a specific theory or a manual on how to be authentic, as it would seem somewhat contradictory, but rather to deepen and enrichen the understanding of the phenomenon across music disciplines and hopefully account for some of the stepping stones that other professionals have trodden on their way towards authenticity. In that regard a thematic analysis will be applied to the data in order to “(...) provide a rich and detailed, yet complex, account of data” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p.78)

The data analysis will be abductive. Even though focus is not on theory building, abduction is still what describes best the movement in the data analysis: a combination of initially inductive, bottom-up, data-based analysis, and then later on more deductive triangulation with literature and own epoché. “The theories developed in abductive analysis denote an attempt to generalize causal links and descriptions of the world out of particular empirical instances.” (Timmermans & Tavory, 2012, p.174)

On authenticity

Authenticity as a term is applied quite differently in the literature and across many disciplines and fields. In this study it is primarily understood in the sense of “self-authenticity” (Newman & Smith, 2016), and in relation to ‘the music therapist’s authentic use of self’ (Lawes, 2020).

Newman & Smith (2016) categorizes authenticity in the four following categories: 1: Historical Authenticity. 2: Categorical Authenticity. 3: Value Authenticity and 4: Self Authenticity. On ‘Self Authenticity’ Newman & Smith write: “This, in our view, is perhaps the most difficult concept to concretely articulate. However, when contrasted with the other types outlined above, it seems possible to at least get some grasp of its boundaries.” (p.613) In other words; a concept hard to comprehend and which is best defined by looking at what it is not. Later on Newman & Smith write: “We also noted that the psychological processes underlying the different types of authenticity have been relatively understudied (...). Thus, we suggest that the study of authenticity should not be limited to categorizing different kinds of authenticity but can be empirically tested as a psychological process with unique predictors and consequences.” (Newman & Smith, 2016, p. 616)

Martin Lawes, a music therapist, lecturer and GIM therapist, and GIM trainer draws on many theorists to try to extract the phenomenon of being authentically present. He uses – among others – James S. Grotstein and Daniel Stern in the understanding of his ‘dream-level intersubjectivity’: “My musical response felt authentic because it emerged out of a dream-level process which inevitably drew on my own personal repertoire of assimilated music experiences. Music therapy, I believe, requires the therapist to have the capacity to respond in such an authentic way to the client involving dreaming and intersubjective relating. For the potential of music therapy to be fully realised for the client, the work is never simply about the client’s process alone. Rather, music therapy involves the client’s and therapist’s personal processes becoming intertwined in the music, the therapist needing to be fully involved in this.” (Lawes, 2020, p.11)


Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology. 3:2, 77- 101. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

Lawes, M. (2020). On improvisation as dreaming and the therapist’s authentic use of self in music therapy. British Journal of Music Therapy, 34(1). 6-18.

Newman, G.E. & Smith, R.K. (2016). Kinds of Authenticity. Philosophy Compass, 11(10). 609–618.

Timmermans, S. & Tavory, I. (2012). Theory Construction in Qualitative Research: From Grounded Theory to Abductive Analysis. Sociological Theory, 30(3). 167-187.