Competency Restoration Through Studio Recording: A Client’s Journey of Education and Expression

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Mace, Brandon
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Trial competency education and medication-based treatment are typical aspects of the competency restoration process (Anderson & Hewitt, 2002; Prosono, 2003; Roesch & Zapf, 2016; & Sammons, 2016). In many inpatient facilities, music therapy has also played a role in the treatment of psychiatric patients (Codding, 2002; Boone, 1991; Fulford, 2002; Hakvoort 2002, 2015; & Silverman, 2007). Despite its success with this population and notable potential, little research exists examining what music therapy can offer the competency restoration process (Boone, 1991; Sammons, 2014). Previous research focused on a lyric discussion and roleplaying technique (Sammons, 2014). For various reasons such as low attention span and client music preference, this technique may not meet the needs of some individuals. Forensic settings also tend to be highly ontrolled environments presenting fewer opportunities for empowerment and purposeful collaboration in the therapy space. For these reasons, the purpose of this case study was to examine how songwriting and studio recording can assist clients in the competency restoration process. Five individual music therapy sessions were conducted with one client having both intellectual disability and mood disorder diagnoses, examining his experience using songwriting and studio recording to aid the competency restoration process. The sessions were video recorded, and an interview was conducted. The therapist’s observations were also noted. The sessions focused on learning basic facts about the four pleas. Knowledge of these pleas was intended to enable the client to gain a common understanding needed to work with his attorney and assist in his own defense. This information was incorporated into the lyrics of an original song written by the client. The results demonstrated an observed increase in knowledge about his plea of choice, as well as the ability to provide basic definitions of all four pleas. Other notable outcomes included the ability of the recording process to meet the unique learning needs of a client with intellectual disabilities, the motivation of the creative process, and the positive impact of individualized attention. Although positive outcomes were indicated in this study, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of music therapy interventions as part of the competency restoration process.