“Doing Things Together Is What It’s About”: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Experience of Group Therapeutic Songwriting From the Perspectives of People With Dementia and Their Family Caregivers

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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BackgroundThe wellbeing of people living with dementia and their family caregivers may be impacted by stigma, changing roles, and limited access to meaningful opportunities as a dyad. Group therapeutic songwriting and qualitative interviews have been utilized in music therapy research to promote the voices of people with dementia and family caregivers participating in separate songwriting groups but not together as dyads.ProceduresThis study aimed to explore how ten people with dementia/family caregiver dyads experienced a 6-week group TSW program. Dyads participated in homogenous TSW groups involving 2–4 dyads who were either living together in the community or living separately because the person with dementia resided in a care home. The TSW program, informed by personhood, couplehood, family centered and group process frameworks, involved creating original lyrics through song parody and song collage. Qualified Music Therapists facilitated sessions and interviewed each dyad separately. Interviews were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.FindingsFive recurrent group themes were developed, indicating group TSW: was a positive shared experience, benefiting both members of the dyad and motivating further engagement with music; stimulated mental processes and reignited participants’ interests and skills; provided meaningful opportunities for reflection and connection with memories and life experiences; and prompted interaction and collaboration, leading to social connections, empathic relationships and experiences of inclusion. Participants also highlighted how: the facilitated process supported engagement, highlighting abilities and challenging doubts.ConclusionDyads identified group TSW as an opportunity to recognize strengths, voice ideas and opinions, share meaningful experiences, and do “more with music.” Participants valued TSW as a new, creative and stimulating experience that enabled connection with self and others and led to feelings of pride and achievement. Our findings further recognize how therapeutic intention and approach were reflected in participants’ engagement and responses regardless of dementia stage and type, dyad relationship, or musical background. This research may broaden perspectives and expand understanding about how people with dementia and their family caregivers access and engage in music therapy.



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