Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Jacelyn Biondo, Ph.D., BC-DMT, LPC



This paper investigates the development of a group music therapy method by adapting elements of mentalization-based treatment (MBT) to help clients with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). A prominent characteristic of NPD is a deficiency in empathy. The fostering of empathy and emotional awareness forms the basis of MBT. Music therapy offers a means to explore these skills on a nonverbal level. This work is even more impactful in a group setting. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of literature specific to music therapy and NPD. Furthermore, despite the availability of writings separately concerning NPD, MBT, group therapy, and music therapy, there is little research synthesizing these topics, indicating that additional study is warranted. At this author’s internship placement at a private psychiatric hospital, there was a significant number of residents with high narcissistic traits. Since mentalization theory is one of the hospital’s foundational orientations, the development of this method aligned with both the institutional philosophy and the needs of the population. The resulting intervention plan consisted of nonverbal musical dialogues performed by residents and observed by peers. These were followed by verbal discussions guessing at their emotional and relational content. In addition, I incorporated weekly receptive group sessions aimed at deepening connections among residents and building trust in the therapeutic relationship. The results suggest that this intervention indeed facilitated the MBT component of affect elaboration by engaging the group’s interest and engendering a variety of interpretations and perspectives.

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