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The effects of orff-based music therapy and social work groups on childhood grief symptoms and behaviors

Publication year
Hilliard, R. E.

This study evaluated and compared the effects of Orff-based music therapy, social work, and wait-list control groups on behavioral problems and grief symptoms of bereaved school-aged children. Social work and music therapy sessions were provided weekly for one hour over an eight-week period. Participants (N = 26) attended three different public elementary schools, and each school was randomly assigned to one of the conditions. Pre and posttest measures consisted of the Behavior Rating Index for Children (BRIC) and the Bereavement Group Questionnaire for Parents and Guardians (BP). The BRIC measured behavioral distress and the BP measured grief symptoms prior to and following participation in the assigned conditions. Statistical analyses indicated that participants in the music therapy group significantly improved in the behaviors and grief symptoms, and those in the social work group experienced a significant reduction in their behavioral problems but not their grief symptoms. Participants in the wait-list control group made no significant improvements in either their grief symptoms or behavioral problems. A reduction in behavioral distress as measured by the BRIC and a reduction in grief symptoms as measured by the BP is the most desired outcome. This study supports the use of Orff-based music therapy interventions for bereaved children in a school-based grief program. Recommendations for future research are included.

Research abstracts