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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of group songwriting versus poetry writing on the self-efficacy of adults who are homeless. The study was conducted in the day center of an emergency shelter where participants took part in one of two conditions. The treatment condition consisted of a single music therapy songwriting session during which participants (n = 19) collaboratively wrote lyrics and composed the music for an original song. After the group performed the song together, with the use of handheld percussion instruments, the researcher facilitated a closing discussion. The control condition consisted of a single poetry therapy session during which participants (n = 14) collaboratively wrote a free-verse poem, recited it together, and concluded with a facilitated discussion. Results showed increased mean self-efficacy scores for both conditions, though neither group's improvement was significant. While there was also no significant difference in the amount of change exhibited by one condition as compared to the other, the music group did evidence a stronger trend of movement toward higher self-efficacy. Music participants had higher mean change scores on 4 out of 5 pre/posttest questions, as well as a higher overall mean change score (6% change as compared to 2% in the poetry condition). The products created in each session were analyzed for observable differences. Overlapping themes included: love, peace, happiness, unity, goals, change, positive thinking, and overcoming adversity. The songs composed by the two music therapy groups were written in verse-chorus form and produced between 6 and 8 unique, unrepeated lines. The poem written by the poetry therapy group was through-composed and produced 26 unique lines. The poetry group product also contained more themes, more sub-thematic material and greater complexity, as evidenced by more detailed explication of each idea. The unique strengths of songwriting and poetry writing in this setting were illuminated by their use in this study; specific goal areas best suited to each modality are discussed. Literature reviewed strongly suggests the need for additional research regarding the use of music therapy with adults experiencing homelessness. The results of this study suggest that both music therapy and poetry therapy are effective therapeutic approaches for this population and that songwriting specifically, may have distinct advantages in addressing self-efficacy.
Homeless, Homelessness, Music Therapy, Poetry Therapy, Self-Efficacy, Songwriting
Date of Defense
April 3, 2013.
A Thesis submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jayne M. Standley, Professor Directing Thesis; Clifford Madsen, Committee Member; Dianne Gregory, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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