Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Marisol Norris


This paper describes a method of writing a short song of meaning with a group of adults with severe mental illness. To motivate patients to complete a song, the method explores combining improvisation and lyric writing with an element of meaningfulness within a single session. Adding improvisation is inspired by music-centered music therapy, where experiences of expression and connection take place in the music making. Resource-oriented music therapy influenced my providing choices for creative expression and recognizing different stages of song achievement. Literature shows reoccurring themes for music therapy, songwriting, and improvisation and drumming benefitting individuals with severe mental illness. These include expression, connection, and identity growth. Literature on the process of lyric writing and meaningfulness promotes the expression of emotions and the sharing of important experiences with others. Combining improvisation and lyric writing as expressive options with an element of meaningfulness may help maintain engagement for patients with severe mental illness long enough to complete a song. This method has implications for single-session mental health care servicing, as well as for music therapy interventions balancing verbal and non-verbal responses.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.




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