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Songwriting in palliative care - creating and leaving a legacy.

Stephanie Thompson

Music therapy is a creative psychotherapeutic intervention which offers alternative forms of communication, enabling clients to explore new ways of being. Songwriting is a popular and effective technique in the field of music therapy, particularly in Palliative Care, as it provides patients and their relatives with the possibility of finding and having a voice, enabling them to communicate their experiences and be heard. Creating original songs with patients and their families is well represented in the music therapy palliative care literature. However, there is little discussion about 1) how the songwriting process forges and maintains connections within families, and 2) the impact of the legacy of the song. This case study will explore the multifaceted benefits of songwriting for one patient and their family in an acute palliative care unit. It will describe how the process enabled the patient to explore issues around the trauma of dying; provide a voice for loved ones; and create an enduring legacy. The case study will also illustrate the role of this legacy within the family and their wider community. This paper identifies that the far ranging benefits of the songwriting experience may not always be evident in the moment and why it is important to consider what may take place beyond the therapy session.

24-28 August 2011 Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre
Darling Harbour, Australia.
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Stephanie Thompson
Stephanie Thompson
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Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie is a qualified music therapist and psychotherapist. While in the UK she studied for a Masters degree in psychotherapy, and also completed a number of specialist courses in Jungian Dream Analysis, Brief Therapy and Cognitive Analytic Therapy.
She has extensive experience, both as a music therapist and psychotherapist. Some of these areas include children with special needs, palliative care and people who have experienced trauma. Stephanie also has completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology.
Stephanie trained in music therapy at the University of Melbourne and was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II award to undertake further studies in the United Kingdom. She has been responsible for establishing many music therapy projects in the West Midlands (UK) and Tasmania, and has lectured on music therapy in Britain and Australia. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne.

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