Music Therapy Skills Used in Songwriting within a Palliative Care Setting
O'Callaghan, Clare, Australian Journal of Music Therapy
This paper describes music therapy skills used in facilitating patients receiving palliative care to write songs. In sessions the music therapist should provide enough structure to allow patients to be as creative as possible. Methods used vary according to the patients' physical and neuropsychological impairments and their needs. The author has found songwriting a valuable medium through which extremely disabled patients may ventilate pent-up feelings, gain support, send messages to special people and feel that they are contributing something unique to this world, thereby gain much pleasure and self-esteem. A music therapist should have the skills to aid patients in realising their songwriting potential.
In this paper the use of songwriting to help alleviate the suffering of those with terminal and/or progressively debilitating illnesses is described. Palliative care is the prime philosophy of care used with this population. This implies that the treatment team directs their efforts at improving the quality rather than the length of time of a patient's survival. Efforts are also made to reduce the suffering of the patient's significant others.
The use of music therapy in palliative care has been extensively described and is regarded by many as a valuable asset to the treatment care team. Many music therapy techniques pertinent to the area have been described. These includes:
--Musically supported psychotherapy, including individual and family work (e.g. Bailey, 1984, Munro and Mount, 1987, O'Callaghan, 1988)
--Collages to Music (e.g. Munro, 1984)
--Musically supported life review (e.g. Bright, 1986, O'Callaghan, 1984)
--Groupwork music therapy (e.g. Short, 1983, Munro. 1984)
--Music and relaxation (e.g. Munro, 1.984)
--Guided imagery and music (e.g. Wylie and Blom, 1986)
--Word substitution in songs (e.g. Bailey, 1984)
Literature Review: (1)
Another technique not mentioned at any length in the palliative care literature is songwriting. The earliest mention of clients being encouraged to compose music was by Crocker (1952) who described her experiences with emotionally disturbed children spontaneously improvising an opera. In the 1960s music composition was described as a psychotherapeutic approach with psychiatric patients by Ruppenthal (1965) and Castellano (1969). Ruppenthal encouraged psychiatric patients to 'scribble' (improvise) music while the therapist reinforced positive sounds. She said that the technique should facilitate tension release in patients and guide them to higher levels of social organisation and …
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Publication information: Article title: Music Therapy Skills Used in Songwriting within a Palliative Care Setting. Contributors: O'Callaghan, Clare - Author. Journal title: Australian Journal of Music Therapy. Volume: 1. Publication date: Annual 1990. Page number: 15+. © 2008 Australian Music Therapy Association, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1990 Gale Group.
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