While researchers have documented the efficacy of clinical songwriting in music therapy, limited research has been conducted on songs composed by music therapists that address clinical goals. The purpose of this research was to examine the original songwriting practices of music therapists. Professional music therapists (N = 1,364) received a 14-question survey via email asking each to identify client populations and clinical goals addressed by original songs, their length of time in clinical practice, and specifics about their acquisition of songwriting skills. The data collected from 302 completed surveys revealed that respondents who used original songs were most likely to work with children and adolescents in schools or the developmental disability field and wrote songs in order to individualize treatment. Music therapists working with persons over 65 years of age in long term care or assisted living programs were the least likely to use
original songs in clinical practice, opting for interventions utilizing the client’s familiar music. Most music therapists found songwriting generally easy, but only 37% indicated that they acquired this skill during their undergraduate degree. Additional research on the clinical efficacy of original songs and therapist’s compositional processes is needed to identify best practices models for strategic songwriting.
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