Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Marisol S. Norris


This capstone thesis project explored a method of structured group songwriting through a humanistic approach. While there was compelling research of songwriting with various populations in music therapy there was noticeably less documentation of work with developmental disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) populations (Baker, Wigram, Stott, McFerrin 2008). There was also limited research available on specific songwriting process elements and the theoretical framework behind such music therapy interventions (Stewart, 2016). More data on this topic would be beneficial to music therapists, particularly young professionals, who frequently use songwriting as an intervention with this population. Based on research and experiences, I adapted a songwriting intervention and facilitated it over three consecutive sessions. The intervention was facilitated with a group of four pre-adolescent boys with varying impairments in a special education setting. Through implementation, observation and review of lyrical content, I found that songwriting structure and musical material must be provided based on client abilities and needs. This adapted songwriting method can be examined by its structure, for instance using a repetitive Chorus/Verse form, while using flexible refining limits such as directive questions. This project provides an example of an adapted songwriting method used in a group music therapy session and additional support for the continued use of songwriting with students with special needs.

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