Dr Hyunah Cho

Dr Hyunah Cho


My PhD is specialising in Music Therapy. My doctoral research is located at the intersection of music therapy, education, medical anthropology, and medical ethnomusicology. Drawing on a cross-disciplinary perspective, my doctoral project investigated how one’s culture worked on music therapy experiences. 

As an experienced health specialist (registered music therapist, New Zealand /South Korea, and clinical psychotherapist, South Korea, since 2013), I have worked with a range of individuals and groups, including children, young people, and the elderly to encourage holistic wellbeing. I helped Juvenile offenders for their positive growth. Working at psychiatric hospitals supporting the different psychological needs of individuals; and at public and private schools for general students’ wellbeing, developed my leadership and skill in providing high quality, efficient, collaborative, accessible and responsive service. I learnt about what satisfied people who used the health-related services and what made a difference in a different cultural context.

My philosophy of education is manaakitanga (the Māori expression of looking after people with love and compassion) and 조화 jo-hwa (the Korean term for weaving the people together), lastly, 상생 sangsaeng (the Korean word for 'win-win' as a mutual and interdependent life, that fosters a culture of collaboration rather than competition), therefore, must have a supportive educational environment where they can develop physically (taha tinana), mentally (taha hinengaro), socially (taha whānau), and spiritually (taha wairua). 


  • Co-Programme Leader, MA Applied Psychology of Music
  • Lead International Students Project, School of Music
  • Acting Programme Leader, MA Music and Wellbeing (22/23)

Research interests

My research interest is in an inclusive understanding of people’s therapeutic experiences within various cultures. By studying the significant role of the cultural context in therapeutic practices, my goal is to warn against dehumanisation, which can come from ignoring cultural diversity. The cultural diversity in healing practices is becoming increasingly crucial in diverse, cosmopolitan societies to understand a ‘person as a culture’. Understanding the cultural context can empower the various voices which have been marginalised by mainstream perspectives. 

Research related activities 

  • Conducting research about musical engagement and subject wellbeing amongst Korean students at the University of Leeds (2023–current).
  • Guest researcher, Ko au tenei, School of pharmacy, The University of Otago, Dunedin (2022–current).  
  • Assisting research about music therapists in New Zealand, New Zealand Music Therapy Association (2022–current)
  • Working as a Research Assiatant in Critical Disability Studies, The University of Otago, Dunedin (2022).
  • Conducting music therapy awareness research, The University of Otago, Dunedin (2021–present)
  • Cho, H. (18 November, 2021). Our journeys as music therapists: Asian perspectives. Presented music therapy practices at a Korean traditional neuropsychiatric clinic at the 2021 Webinar Series of New Zealand Music Therapy Week, Many voices, one purpose. 
  • Cho, H. (14 August, 2021). A culturally sensitive “wifi” healing model. Paper presented at the Music Therapy New Zealand Symposium. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
  • Working as a postgraduate student/Associate investigator in Critical Disability Studies, The University of Otago, Dunedin (2020–2021).
  • Cho, H. (20 November, 2020). Wifi model: A cultural context in musical healing. Paper presented at the Conference on the State of Music Research in Aotearoa, Tuning in to the Pandemic. Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University. 
  • Cho, H. (20 October, 2020). Musicking and cultural identity. Workshop presented at the 2020 Webinar Series of New Zealand Music Therapy Week, Keeping Community in Mind. 
  • Cho, H. (2018). The application of anthroposophical music therapy in South Korean society: An applied ethnography study. Poster presented at the meeting of the Canadian Music Therapy Annual Conference. 
  • Cho, H. (2017). Mental health and music preference: The correlation between mental state and music preference in a Korean psychiatric clinic [Poster competition]. The University of Otago Poster Competition, Dunedin, New Zealand.
  • Cho, H. (2016). A case study of improving a soldier’s military adaptation through music and imagery. Poster presented at the Music and Imagery case study poster presentation. Ewha Woman’s University Wellness Centre.


  • Cho, H. (In process). “I feel safe when I listen to Korean Music”: Musical engagement and subjectvie wellbeing among Korean students in the UK. SOKEN.
  • Cho, H. (In process). “Comfort like home food”: Gayageum 가야금 in Dunedin. New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Cho, H. Johnson, H., Fitzgerald, R., Barak, Y. (In process). Perceptions of Music Therapy amongst Academics and Healthcare Providers in Universities and University-affiliated Health Services in New Zealand. Music and Medicine.
  • Cho, H. (2021). An applied ethnography within the anthroposophical community. [Unpublished PhD thesis]. The University of Otago. 
  • Cho, H. (2020). 바람 Baram (Wishes), Gayageumsanjo. The New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy, 18, 25–26.
  • Cho, H. and Yoo, J. (2019). A case study of the application of Music and Imagery therapy for reducing depression in a Korean Oriental psychiatric clinic. The Korean Journal of Arts Therapy, 19(1), 63–80.
  • Cho, H., Lee, J., and Yoo, J. (2014). A case study of improving a soldier’s military adaptation through music and imagery. The Korean Association of Military Counseling, 3(1), 28–40.
  • Cho, H. (2013). Analysis of music therapy research in professional journals in Korea. Journal of Music and Human Behavior, 10(2), 55–77. 
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Music Therapy, The University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • M.Ed in Music Therapy Education, Ewha Womans University, South Korea
  • BA in Psychology (Second major: Child development & Intervention, Korean Music), Ewha University
  • FHEA
  • New Zealand Registered Music Therapist (NZRMTh), Korean Certificated Music Therapist (KCMT)

Professional memberships

  • New Zealand Registered Music Therapist (NZRMTh)
  • National Technical Qualification Certificate Clinical Psychologist, South Korea
  • Korean Certificated Music Therapist (KCMT)
  • The Level 1 Guided Imagery and Music Therapist
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Student education

I currently lead the International Student Project and am co-programme leader for the MA Applied Psychology of Music at the School of Music. In the previous academic year, I took on the role of acting programme leader for the MA Music & Wellbeing. 

Since 2019, I have taught social anthropology, education, and music papers at a university in New Zealand. These teaching experiences in different disciplines have enhanced my pedagogical practices, particularly in terms of fostering an inclusive culture of learning, providing pastoral care and offering research-informed teaching to diverse groups of students. Teaching various papers helped me experience proactively develop new and innovative teaching and assessment (formative and summative) approaches and materials.