Therapeutic songwriting in music therapy, Part II: Comparing the literature with practice across diverse clinical populations

Felicity Baker, Tony Wigram, Dave Stott, Katrina McFerran

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)



A growing body of literature on therapeutic songwriting with diverse clinical populations indicates that clinicians employ a wide range of approaches. The purpose of this research was to establish trends in the clinical practice of songwriting as implemented across a range of clinical populations. Responses to a 21-question on-line survey were obtained from 419 professional music therapists practicing in 29 countries which focused on approaches to songwriting within their practice with a single clinical population. Results suggest that in general, the literature provides good representation for what is occurring in clinical practice. Generally, songs were composed with individual clients in single sessions, with lyrics created prior to the music. Clinicians had a significant role in creating the music with improvised and pre-determined musical structures being equally employed.  Chi-square or comparable  Exact tests (Fisher-Freeman-Halton) were applied to the data and significant associations were found according to clinical populations particularly with respect the number of sessions required to complete a song, approaches to composing lyrics and music, the context with which songwriting was employed, and the types of allied health professionals involved in the songwriting interventions. There is a distinct absence of songwriting literature as applied in developmental disability, autism spectrum disorder, and aged care contexts so the resulting practice trends offered here contribute to the increasing body of knowledge about songwriting practices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Music Therapy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)32-56
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Songwriting, music therapy methods, lyric creation,

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