Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC


Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes manic and depressive symptoms and is characterized by mood episodes that could last for days to months. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder has various social, emotional, and practical consequences. Among the impacts of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder on individuals are self-concept and social identity. The discovery of a mental illness can cause one to struggle with accepting who they were before the illness and who they have become after being diagnosed with the disorder. The conflict can cause individuals to lose their identity and self-image. When this happens, they may require treatment to aid in rehabilitation and self-acceptance. Music therapy has been a commonly used form of treatment with people who have mental illnesses. Songwriting allows individuals to express their feelings and emotions and reflect on their past, present and future. In the end, the diagnosis and process of songwriting work towards reconciling their image and identity. The focus of further research should be on the specific areas of impact of songwriting in bipolar disorder patients and how the intervention promotes self-acceptance, self-esteem, and identity development at the individual and society level.

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