The Effect of a Music Therapy-Based Social Skills Training Program on Social Competence in Children and Adolescents with Social Skills Deficits
Gooding, Lori Fogus (author)
Standley, Jayne M. (professor directing dissertation)
Mazza, Nicholas (university representative)
Darrow, Alice-Ann (committee member)
Geringer, John (committee member)
Madsen, Clifford (committee member)
College of Music (degree granting department)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
Strong social skills are vital for successful functioning in life. Social skills enable individuals to interact appropriately with others and impact (a) academic success, (b) peer and family relationships, (c) employment and (d) extra-curricular/leisure activities. Research indicates that deficits in social functioning during childhood are linked to a variety of negative outcomes including: (a) substandard academic performance, (b) high incidences of school maladjustment, (c) expulsions and/or suspensions from school, (d) high dropout rates, (e) high delinquency rates, (f) impaired social relationships, (g) high incidences of childhood psychopathology and (h) substance abuse. Research also suggests that the impact of impaired social functioning in childhood can be long lasting and contribute to (a) a lack of postsecondary education and training, (b) unemployment or underemployment, (c) unstable and unfulfilling personal lives and (d) adult mental health issues. At the same time, research also indicates that programs designed to improve social competence can positively impact an individual's social functioning. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the effect of a music therapy-based intervention program on improving social skills competence in children and adolescents with social skills deficits. Three separate studies were conducted in educational, residential and after-school care settings to test the effectiveness of a five session social skills training curriculum. Music-based interventions, which were primarily active in nature, were presented in a cognitive-behavioral group format. Specific deficits in the areas of peer relations and self-management skills were targeted. Interventions included a variety of techniques such as music performance, movement to music and improvisation. Data were collected from the participants, from appropriate adult personnel and via behavioral observations before, during and after music therapy intervention. Participants (n=12) in the first study were children aged 11-16 years in an educational setting. All participants were diagnosed with learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or Asperger's Syndrome. Participants in the second study (n=13) were children aged 8-17 years in a residential treatment program. These participants were victims of abuse and neglect and had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ADHD and/or anxiety disorders. All participants were unable to function within the community. Participants (n=20) in the third study were children aged 6-11 years who attended an inner-city after-school care program. Participants for this study included a mixture of typically developing children and children with generalized social, conduct and/or behavioral deficits. The first study, which took place in an educational setting, used a one-group pretest-posttest design. The dependent variables were: (a) Teacher ratings of the participants' social functioning via a researcher-created social skills rating system, (b) Subject self-report ratings of social functioning using Likert-type ratings, (c) Researcher ratings of social functioning using Likert-type ratings and (d) Behavioral observations of on-task social behaviors in group sessions. Results indicated both a significant difference for subject self-ratings from the first to fifth sessions and a significant difference for researcher ratings from the first to fifth sessions. Additionally, significant increases were found in on-task behavior, while significant decreases were found in both on-task prompted behaviors and off-task behaviors. Teacher ratings of social functioning supported improved social competence but did not show significant improvement from pre to post treatment. The second study occurred at a private residential treatment program. A one-group pretest-posttest design was used at this site. Dependent measures included: (a) Subject self-reported social functioning using the Social Skills Assessment—Adolescents, (b) Subject peer-reported social status via an adapted sociometric scale, (c) Staff social competence ratings via the Home and Community Social Behavior Scales—Social Competence and Antisocial Subscales, and (d) Behavioral Observations of on-task social behaviors in group sessions. Results indicated a significant difference for the case manager's pre and post treatment ratings on the Antisocial Subscale of the Home and Community Social Behavior Scales; however, no significance was found for the Social Competence Subscale. A significant difference for the behavioral observations was also found. No significant differences were found for either of the subject measurements (Social Skills Assessment—Adolescent or the Sociometric Scale), but both measurements did support improvements across time. The third study occurred at an inner-city after-school care program. A pretest-posttest control group design was used for this study with participants randomly assigned to either the control or the experimental group. Social skills functioning in the after-school study was measured via: (a) Subject self-reported social functioning using the Social Skills Assessment—Elementary Age, (b) Staff Social Competence Ratings via the Home and Community Social Behavior Scales, (c) Behavior Scales —Social Competence and Antisocial Subscales and (d) Behavioral observations of on-task social behavior of the experimental group during treatment. Results indicated no significant differences for staff ratings of participants' social competence or antisocial behaviors pre and post music therapy intervention. However, a significant improvement from pre to post treatment in experimental subject self-ratings of social functioning was found, as well as a significant improvement in on-task behavior for the experimental group during music therapy sessions. Benefits of the music therapy-based social skills training program were found in all three settings, suggesting that the program was effective in combating impaired social functioning for children and adolescents with a wide range of deficits and/or disabilities. The fact that significant results were found in all three settings also suggests that the program may be applicable to a wide range of settings. Additionally, it appears that the active music therapy interventions used in a cognitive-behavioral group format were effective in combating social skill deficits. Finally, the fact that behavioral observations were consistently significant could indicate that observations of on-task social behaviors may be the most reliable way to evaluate social functioning. Based on these results, it appears the program has the potential to be an effective vehicle for addressing social skills deficits in children and adolescents.
Music Therapy, Social Skills Deficits, Social Competence, Cognitive-Behavioral, Social Skills Training Program
March 18, 2010.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jayne M. Standley, Professor Directing Dissertation; Nicholas Mazza, University Representative; Alice-Ann Darrow, Committee Member; John Geringer, Committee Member; Clifford Madsen, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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