Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

A mixed methods analysis of songs written by bereaved preadolescents in individual music therapy

Journal title
Journal of music therapy
Publication year
Roberts, M.; McFerran, K.

BACKGROUND: Providing opportunities for children to process loss and express grief in response to the loss of a loved one has been shown to assist with successful coping (Worden, 1996). Songwriting may be a relevant method that fosters the expression of thoughts and feelings related to the loss. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to analyse lyrics written by bereaved children during individual music therapy and to determine if they did use the opportunity to address grief through songwriting. METHODS: Participants were 14 bereaved children (13 girls, 1 boy) aged between 7 and 12 years. Children were recruited and participated in individual music therapy in their homes with a credentialed music therapist. Participants wrote a total of 49 songs and their lyrics were analysed using a mixed methods content analysis. An inductive analysis identified categories existing within the lyrics and each lyric was then deductively attributed to one of the categories. RESULTS: Results revealed that the children wrote songs about themselves, their experiences, and their relationships, including, but not limited to the topic of loss. CONCLUSIONS: It became apparent that through songwriting these children expressed their experiences of the world based on their developmental capacities and limitations.

Research abstracts