Therapeutic songwriting as a meaningful, relationship-oriented activity to establish authentic communicative opportunities during therapy for an individual with PPA


Background: Therapeutic songwriting (TSW) is an activity used with people who have neurological and psychological conditions. TSW can act as a tool for assisting people with primary progressive aphasia (PPA) struggling to regain coherence and meaning amidst the psychosocial sequelae that often accompanies this chronic, progressive medical condition. With help from a facilitating clinician, TSW addresses issues of building and maintaining interpersonal relationships in the face of considerable language challenges.

Aim: This study explored how two different forms of TSW were perceived by a participant with PPA in terms of the quality and meaningfulness of the activity, and as a modality for conducting communication therapy.

Methods & Procedures: The participant was a 64-year-old woman with the logopenic variant of PPA. She participated in 13 therapy sessions designed to increase her successful use of conversational repair strategies while engaged in TSW using two different techniques: Song Parody Technique (SPT) and modified song Collage Technique (SCT). The participant’s perceptions were measured using the Meaningfulness of Songwriting Scale and a Songwriting Satisfaction and Enjoyment scale. A modified version of the ASHA Quality of Communication Life (ASHA QCL) was administered (pre and post) to measure the extent the participant believed TSW impacted her quality of communication life. The use of spontaneous repair strategies (word finding and picture board) during TSW tasks was tallied from recorded sessions.

Outcomes & Results: The participant found both forms of TSW meaningful. She enjoyed the activity and indicated creating the two songs was satisfying. She preferred the SPT over the modified SCT. When compared to pre-ASHA QCL measures, the participant felt it “easier to communicate” and to “stay in touch with family/friends”. She rated herself higher in terms of feeling “included”, “seeing the funny things in life”, “trying when people didn’t understand her”, and was more “confident in her ability to communicate”. The use of conversation repair increased from 20% to 80% of the opportunities during TSW.

Conclusions: Given the risk for psychosocial sequelae that often accompanies PPA, TSW was identified as an authentic, meaningful activity that created connectedness, while working on communication repairs during therapy. Even in the face of declining linguistic and cognitive abilities, TSW provided an opportunity for enriched social interaction, self-expression, motivation, confidence, and enhanced quality of communication. TSW addressed the importance of maintaining relationships in a manner that supported individualized choice and dignity for the participant.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

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enjoyment, meaningfulness, primary progressive aphasia, Therapeutic songwriting

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