One of my favorite interventions to use in my sessions with not just one or two of my clients, but ALL of my clients is songwriting. I love being a part of the creativity and I love watching songs develop and progress into a work of art from literally nothing.
First, let me give you a little insight into the world of songwriting. There are many different kinds of songwriting techniques and structure(s) we use in our practice some of which include the following: mad lib, fill in the blank, re-writing original songs, vocal and/or instrumental improvisation, and writing lyrics and instrumentation to create a completely original song.
What’s so wonderful about writing songs in a therapeutic environment, and more so with a certified music therapist, is that the person writing the song will ALWAYS be successful. In music therapy, ANYONE can be a singer/songwriter. Really? Really! You see, with our bag of tricks, we music therapists know exactly how to adapt the intervention so that you can make the song your own using one or many of the techniques I mentioned earlier.
So at this point, you might be thinking, “Wow, that’s pretty cool, but why write songs when you can just use something from the radio?”
Express Yourself- Songwriting is a fabulous outlet that allows and/or encourages our clients to express themselves in a different and positive way. Often times, I have clients that are just tired of “talking” about how they “feel.” Songwriting allows them to express those emotions through an instrument or writing out how they feel and putting it to music. For example, sometimes I start out playing chords as the client determines what chord will come next in the progression. After they get a feel of the progression they create lyrics about how they feel and that they initially didn’t want to talk about, to the progression. Songwriting also works on receptive and expressive language skills depending on the clients’ current needs. It can be as simple as filling in how you feel or identifying a word that specifically addresses an area of need such as social skills.
Validate and Alleviate- Songwriting can be VERY validating. When you hear yourself or someone else singing words that you have written about your feelings, you might find yourself feeling a LOT less alone in the moment. When you are validated, at some point or another, you might feel that some of your anxiety, worry, or stress has been alleviated by processing these emotions through the process of putting it into a song.
Be Successful- Songwriting is a great tool for building self-value and worth and providing a venue that allows an individual to be successful at something. How awesome would it be if you could pop in your own album into the CD player in your car and listen to music that you wrote?!?! I can tell you know, it’s pretty incredible watching my clients listen to a recording of their self-composed music.
So to quote a great songwriter “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no. Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show. I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do. My gift is my song, and this one’s for you.” –Elton John
-Laura Theismann, MT-BC