Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How did I as a student music therapist, use songwriting techniques to facilitate self-expression with adolescents in a mental health school setting?

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Version 2 2023-09-22, 02:14
Version 1 2021-11-22, 08:26
posted on 2021-11-22, 08:26 authored by Johnson, Emma

The purpose of this research was to understand how a student music therapist was able to facilitate self-expression using specific songwriting techniques, during long term and short term, group and individual music therapy sessions. Long term is considered a four-month period of weekly sessions, and short term is considered a single session. This research took place at an educational facility where I was working with adolescents with various mental health issues. In this exegesis, I discuss the various definitions of self-expressions as defined in literature, and consider the ways this relates to songwriting methods chosen and applied during therapy. A qualitative method of research was used, using secondary analysis of data collected from five months of Music Therapy practice. Thematic analysis was applied to clinical notes from sessions, student review statements and personal reflective practitioner journal. I was guided by music therapy literature discussing songwriting that I had been drawing on for the benefit of my practice. My analysis revealed that I developed specifically tailored methods and techniques for individuals and groups, which would begin with how they would like to approach their songwriting. I also found, that alongside more well documented techniques such as lyric writing and composition, improvisation and song planning were of high value to my practice and therefore were included as therapeutic songwriting techniques in my findings.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Music Therapy

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Music Therapy

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Rickson, Daphne