Therapeutic songwriting in music therapy Part I: : Who are the therapists, who are the clients, and why is songwriting used?
Songwriting as a therapeutic intervention has received increasing attention in the field of music therapy over the past decade however much of the publications focus on clinical outcomes rather than methods of practice. This paper, part of a two-part research report into trends in the clinical practice of songwriting, aims to describe the most frequently employed goal areas across a range of clinical populations and compare these findings with the published literature. Responses to a 21-question online survey were obtained from 477 professional music therapists practicing in 29 countries which focused on approaches to songwriting within their practice with a single clinical population. Chi-square or comparable Exact tests (Fisher-Freeman-Halton) were applied to the data and significant associations were found according to different clinical populations particularly with respect to the aims of songwriting in clinical practice and the frequency with which songwriting is employed in practice. The data highlights that songwriting is frequently employed in developmental disability and ASD practice, with reports on songwriting with these diagnostic groups being underrepresented in the music therapy literature. The survey identified that the most frequently endorsed goal areas align with the literature base and included a) experiencing mastery, develop self-confidence, enhance self-esteem; b) choice and decision making; c) develop a sense of self; d) externalising thoughts, fantasies, and emotions; e) telling the client's story; and f) gaining insight or clarifying thoughts and feelings.