Alternative education students face many interacting challenges that put them at significant risk of dropping out of school (Carver & Lewis, 2010), as well as deleterious health and psychological outcomes, and intergenerational cycles of sociopolitical disadvantage (Laird, Kienzel, Debell & Chapman, 2007). Despite the persistent national epidemic of school dropout, few studies have investigated treatments for alternative education students, often characterized as “difficult to reach” given the chronic substance abuse, low motivation, and poor attendance typical of this population (Rumberger & Lim, 2008).
This study investigated the effectiveness of a novel music therapy intervention, Recorded Music Expressive Arts (RMEA), with alternative education students. The purpose of RMEA in this context was to engage students in a potentially motivating, culturally relevant treatment that satisfies identified provisions to ameliorate dropout (Kim & Taylor, 2008). RMEA employs narrative therapy concepts as a framework for treatment, and integrates songwriting, music production, and recording into psychotherapy. Through the song-creation process, participants were encouraged to “tell their story” to re-author problem-saturated personal narratives and discover more self-affirming ways of being (White & Epston, 1990).
Participants were 10 adolescent boys, age 14–18, attending an alternative education school in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ten 60-minute individual RMEA sessions were delivered twice weekly over 7–19 weeks. Pre/post data was analyzed using Vargha-Delaney’s A. Large effect sizes were found for a) coping (problem focused engagement, cognitive restructuring, problem solving, and emotional expression); b) substance misuse (decreased marijuana use) and co-occurring psychological disturbances (decreased school and behavior problems); c) increased contemplation and action readiness to respond to intervention; d) behavior (decreased internalizing, behavior, learning problems, and suspension rates); and e) attendance (increased attendance for RMEA sessions and days on which RMEA was delivered). Overall, the results indicate that RMEA is a viable and effective treatment for alternative education high school students. Analysis of participant interviews and song content further support results, as well as RMEAs proposed therapeutic mechanisms of action, including narrative therapy concepts. Findings highlight the need for replication studies with larger sample sizes, inclusion of adolescent girls, and other alternative education school settings.
|Commitee:||Biermann, Mitch, Morales, Eduardo|
|School:||Alliant International University|
|Department:||San Francisco, CSPP|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Music therapy, Special education, Secondary education, Psychology|
|Keywords:||Adolescents, Alternative education, Music therapy, Narrative therapy, Rap, Substance abuse|
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