Rebecca Zarate

Assistant Professor/Music Therapy Coordinator

617.349.8927 x.8927
Rebecca Zarate

Dr. Zarate is past co-chair of the European chapter of IEATA, and founding committee member of the Expressive Therapies Summit, NYC. She is from Cornwall, UK, and has worked internationally, spending a significant part of her career serving the South Bronx community, NYC. She is coordinator of the Expressive Therapies Research Center at Lesley. Dr. Zarate has published and presented on cultural humility and the arts therapies, trauma - informed music therapy theory and methods, quantitative, qualitative, and arts-based research on music therapy and anxiety, and the social architecture of anxiety. She has served on several boards, including executive board for Project Hip-Hop, Boston, AMTA program approval committee, the editorial board of the Journal of Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, clinical research director of Butterly Music Trans* Chorus and its Women's Rights Chorus.  Dr. Zarate currently serves as Chair of Lesley University Faculty Assembly, leadership council member for Music Therapy Without Borders, and editorial board member for the Journal of Music Therapy. 

She is dedicated to translating clinical and educational knowledge of music into the greater community through the intersections of cross-discipline, interdisciplinary collaborations, and arts technologies.  Dr. Zarate is currently working on the impact of using a critically conscious lens in aesthetics as a transformative tool for clinical and performance pedagogy, including her own music centered technique of tracking moments of interest and transitions within clinical improvisation.  She is the recipient of the 2017 Institute for Arts and Health Fellowship Award, and a 2016 Lesley University Junior Faculty Fellowship Award, for which she continues to research campus safety and community anxiety.  She is particularly interested in the collective impact of anxiety in communities, specifically addressing social hostility.


Selected Publications

Sajnani, N., Marxen, E., Zarate, R. (2017). Critical perspectives in the arts therapies: Response/ability across a continuum of practice. The Arts in Psychotherapy54, 28-37.

Zarate, R. (2016).  Critical Social Aesthetics Theory in Music Therapy.  European Music Therapy Conference, Vienna.

Zarate, R. (2016).  The social architecture of anxiety and potential role of music therapy.  Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 16, 1.

Zarate, R. (2016).  Clinical improvisation and its effect on anxiety: A multiple single subject design: The Arts in Psychotherapy, 48, 46-53.

Zarate, R. (2015).  Closing commentary from breakout group representatives.  Engaging in Generating Knowledge from a reflective, reflexive, social justice perspective.  In Else, B.A. & Farbman, A.F. (Eds).  Proceedings from: Improving Quality and Access: Music Therapy Research 2025 (pp. 114-115).  Silver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association.

Zarate, R. 2014. The Sounds of Anxiety: A Path to the Pulse of Community. Music Therapy Today Special Issue. Summer 2014, (10), 1. Conference Proceedings. complete_congress_proceedings_mt_10/117?e=3210884/8433225


Zarate, R. (2017). Creative arts therapies and business in the USAPerspectives and perception. In Daniel Thomas and Vicky Abad (Eds.), The economics of therapy: caring for clients, colleagues, competitors and cash-flow. London, UK: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.     

Fleetwood (2010). Boundary perspective music therapy. In Kristen Stewart (Ed.), Music therapy & trauma: Bridging theory and clinical practice (pp. 160- 167). New York, NY: Sachnote Press.

Academic Papers

The Sounds of Anxiety: A Quantitative study of music therapy and anxiety (2012), Ph.D. dissertation. UMI 3509411.


July 2016: Presenter.  Critical social aesthetics theory in music therapy.  European Music Therapy Conference, Vienna.

April 2016: Critical aesthetics in arts based research.  Lesley University, Community of Scholars Day.

September 2015: Conference master class: Teaching Cultural Humility, Responsiveness, and Competency in the Arts Therapies, ECArTE, Palermo, Sicily.  Co-presenters: Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Dr. Nancy Beardall, Dr. Angelica Pinna-Perez, and Dr. Raquel Chapin-Stephenson.

September 2015: Panel presenter: Critical perspectives in the Arts Therapies: Palermo, Sicily.  Co-presenters: Dr. Nisha Sajnani and Dr. Eva Marx.

April 2015: Invited Co-Presenter.  An Interdisciplinary Research Approach to a Social Justice Chorus Rehearsal Workshop for Butterfly Music Inc., Lesley University.  Co-presenter: Dr. Susan Firestone.

January 2015: Invited Panel Presenter: Arts Therapies in Mental Health, Harvard University.  Co-presenters: Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Dr. Nancy Beardall, Dr. Angelica Pinna Perez, Dr. Raquel Chapin-Stephenson.

July 2014: Presenter: The Sounds of Anxiety: A Path to the Pulse of Community, World Congress of Music Therapy: Krems, Austria.

April 2014: Presenter: Examining Single Subject Design in Music Therapy Research, New England Regional American Music Therapy Association Annual Conference: Connecticut, USA.

February 2014: Invited Presenter: Arts Focused Learning in Research and Evaluation, Haifa University, Israel.

January 2014: Invited Panel Presenter: Arts in mental health discussions and dialogue, Harvard University.  Co-presenters: Dr. Nisha Sajnani, Dr. Nancy Beardall, Dr. Angelica Pinna-Perez, and Dr. Raquel Chapin-Stephenson.

November 2013: Presenter: Examining the Effect of Music Psychotherapy on Anxiety: Creative Clinical Improvisation Within a Single Subject Design, Voice from the Sea, American Music Therapy Association National Conference: Jackson, Florida.

April 2014: Invited Panel Presenter: Research Alive: New Research in Music Therapy.  Co-presenter Dr. Micharl Viega.

March 2013: AMTA- Mid Atlantic Regional conference Research Alive! Panelist on new music therapy research, Mid Atlantic Region Conference, PA.

Nov 2010: The ahhh in Anxiety: A pilot study on the effect of music therapy improvisation and anxiety with individuals in the community. Expressive Therapies Summit, NYC.

July 2009: Trauma informed expressive therapies: therapeutic lullaby, attachment, and quality of presence with mothers and children who experienced interpersonal violence. International Expressive Therapies Association, World Conference, MA.

June 2008: Panel Presentation: Boundary Perspective Music Therapy: A theoretical Model of working with the multisensory environment in clinical improvisation. International Music Therapy & Trauma Symposium. Beth Israel Hospital, NYC.

April 2001: Trauma, Boundaries, and Music Therapy with individuals in inpatient psychiatry who were sexually abused as children. International Trauma Conference, Marriott Marquis, NYC. 


Zarate, R. (2017). Arts – Based Research Composition. Alternative Facts.

Zarate, R. (2016). Commissioned composition.  Ambient – 1, Ambient-2, Unsettled, Flowing, Lively. A collection of compositions for Expressive Digital Imagery.

Zarate, R. (2015). Commissioned composition. Un-chartering terrain. Commissioned composition for the Harvard Trauma Refugee Program (HRPT). Podcast launched on October 24th on


Ph.D., Expressive Therapies, Lesley University
M.A., New York University
BMus (honors), Goldsmiths College, University of London.  

Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC)
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT)
Advanced Vocal Psychotherapist (AVPT)