• Kasper Spring Ehlers
4. semester, Musikterapi, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)



Aim: This qualitative single-case study seeks to investigate the use of therapeutic songwriting with a patient in palliative care suffering from metastatic breast cancer, from the perspective of the field of existential therapy. Furthermore, the study explores the therapeutic relationship in light of the therapeutic songwriting process.


Background: This master thesis arises from a four month practice placement at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia. From seeing a total of 25 individual patients in music therapy during these four months one case in particular stood out. A woman in her mid 50’s diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer whom, by the time of referral, was already in palliative care. An intense course of six music therapy sessions during a period of eight days paves the foundation of this case study. Receptive music therapy methods were used with the aim of relaxation and quality of life as well as to help manage pain. After experiencing imaging and reliving memories of nature while listening to improvised music, the idea of therapeutic songwriting was put forward. We spent the last three sessions writing a song, during one of which, a recording of the process was made. The song was finished and recorded in a studio. Two days later the patient died and the song was played at her funeral. 


Method: A qualitative and explorative approach based on hermeneutics is chosen for this study. The study consists of a bottom up design where recordings from a songwriting session are transcribed and analyzed through the principles of thematic coding as described by Kvale & Brinkmann (2015). Perspectives from the field of existential therapy are applied to the analysis to interpret the findings and broaden the understanding of therapeutic songwriting and the therapeutic relationship. 


Results: The study highlights several existential themes emerging from the therapeutic songwriting process. The most prominent findings among the existential themes are meaning (meaningfulness), sense of coherence, insight and clarification. Other themes include embodiment and finding peace. Regarding the therapeutic relationship in the songwriting process the findings include respect, engagement, shared process and guiding. Furthermore, discussing the therapeutic relationship results in a deeper understanding of the fluid boundaries of personal and emotional distance between therapist and patient. 


Keywords: Music therapy, therapeutic songwriting, existential therapy, therapeutic relationship, breast cancer, palliative care, end-of-life care.       

Udgivelsesdato2 jun. 2020
Antal sider80
ID: 333397683