Development of the Grief Process Scale through music therapy songwriting with be

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      Authors: Dalton, T. A. & Krout, R. E. (2005)

      The Arts in Psychotherapy 32 (2005) 131-143



      There are available to health professionals and clinicians working with bereaved children and adolescents many available treatment options, ranging from support groups to phar- macological and psychotherapeutic interventions (Forte, Hill, Pazder, & Feudtner, 2004). The use of music therapy and songwriting experiences in grief interventions for bereaved children and adolescents to help them with issues relating to the validation, identification, clarification, normalization, and expression of feelings and emotions has been described by a number of authors and clinicians (Bright, 2002; Dalton, 1999, 2002; Hilliard, 2001; Krout, 1998, 1999, 2002, in press; McFerran-Skewes & Grocke, 2000; Skewes, 2000; Skewes & Grocke, 2000; Teahan, 2000). However, there have been relatively few research studies in the area. In addition, few studies have reported using original assessment instruments designed to measure changes in the grieving of bereaved adolescents due to treatments such as music therapy and other creative arts therapies. In one related example, Goldstein (1990) developed a Songwriting Assessment of Hopelessness (SAH) for use with adolescents with a clinical picture of depression and/or a history of suicidal ideations or attempts. Some of the participants had experienced the death of a loved one. The author related scores on the Beck Hopelessness Scale to those of the SAH. Results suggested that the SAH may be useful for assessing hopelessness. In a pilot study, Hilliard (2001) examined the ef- fects of music therapy-based bereavement groups on the behavior and mood of bereaved children aged 6–11 years. Songwriting was used as one of the techniques within an overall cognitive–behavioral treatment approach. Children participating in the music therapy groups showed significant reductions in certain grief symptoms as measured by two standardized measurement instruments, the Bereavement Group Questionnaire for Parents/Guardians and the Behavior Rating Index for Children (Hilliard, 2001). In a phenomenological study, McFerran-Skewes (2001) investigated a psychodynamic approach to music therapy group work with younger, bereaved adolescents. The author conducted and analyzed in-depth in- terviews with the participants following a course of 10 music therapy sessions. She reported that their desires for freedom, control, fun, and achievement of cohesion within the group were essential in successfully addressing their grief needs (McFerran-Skewes, 2001).

      The purpose of the current project was to design and pilot a music therapy-driven grief processing assessment instrument with bereaved adolescents receiving group songwriting interventions.


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