Jewish Wordless Singing in Music Therapy and Burnout Prevention with Outpatient Mental Health Clinicians
Existing literature has shown a rise in burnout levels for mental health clinicians, especially in light of the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This capstone project focused on understanding how Jewish wordless melodies (niggunim) may be used as a technique in group singing in music therapy as a strategy for preventing clinician burnout. Research has demonstrated that music therapy techniques may be beneficial in addressing the causes and components of burnout though there is minimal research on the use of niggunim in music therapy, and none on the use of niggunim to prevent burnout. A single-session niggunim-based intervention was carried out in a group of three outpatient mental health clinicians practicing at a clinic in the metro Boston area. Data collection and analysis followed a qualitative and arts-based procedure which included written narrative summaries and self-reflection through journaling and niggun improvisation by the researcher. Five main themes were lifted from these reflections including: Self-Consciousness, Mood Elevation, Connection, Anchoring, and Comfort Tied to Familiarity. The results indicate that niggunim-based interventions may be useful in the prevention of burnout in this population and a clinical model based on these themes is proposed.
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