Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C. Owens


Many of the techniques and methods used in the music therapy field today are derived from non-Western and ancient methods of healing with sound and music; however, these methods are often seen as falling outside the boundaries of professional music therapy. This study demonstrated the need to expand music therapy and mental health practices beyond ethnocentric orientation by exploring the efficacy of a cross-cultural vocal music therapy method to address biopsychosocial and spiritual concerns in cancer care. The method was an expressive, voice-based music therapy approach combining theories and ideas from transpersonal and psychodynamic frameworks and ancient and modern sound healing techniques from a variety of Indigenous and non-Western cultures. The method was conducted in music therapy support groups and individual music therapy sessions at a cancer support center that provides integrative therapeutic programs and services to adults affected by cancer. Clinical goals, such as decreasing anxiety and stress, pain and symptom management, improving mood, and increasing energy, were achieved through breath work, humming, toning, vocal improvisation and meditation, singing mantras and chants, and songwriting. Qualitative results indicated a decrease in levels of distress with physical, social, emotional, functional, and spiritual well-being after each session. Although the health benefits of therapeutic singing have been established in the music therapy field, further research examining the use and efficacy of voicework in cancer care is recommended, especially psychotherapeutic and transpersonal outcomes. The integration of non-Euro-American music therapy approaches and ancient and modern sound healing techniques in music therapy practice should also be considered.

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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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