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J Music Ther. 2011 Winter;48(4):440-62.

The effect of a music therapy social skills training program on improving social competence in children and adolescents with social skills deficits.

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The University of Kentucky, USA.


Three separate studies were conducted in school, residential and after-school care settings to test the effectiveness of a music therapy-based social skills intervention program on improving social competence in children and adolescents. A total of 45 children (n = 12; n = 13; n = 20) aged 6-17 years with social skills deficits participated in a group-based five session intervention program. The same curriculum, adapted to be age appropriate, was used at all 3 sites. Specific deficits within the social skills areas of peer relations and self-management skills were targeted. Active interventions like music performance, movement to music and improvisation were used. Cognitive-behavioral techniques like modeling, feedback, transfer training and problem solving were also incorporated. Data on social functioning were collected before, during, and after the music therapy intervention from participants, appropriate adult personnel and via behavioral observations. Results indicated that significant improvements in social functioning were found in (a) school participant pre and post self-ratings, (b) researcher pre and post ratings of school participants, (c) case manager's pre and post treatment ratings for the residential participants, (d) after-school care participants' pre and post self-ratings, and (e) behavioral observations at all three settings. Additional changes, although not significant, were noted in teacher ratings, residential participant self- and peer ratings, and after-school case manager ratings. Results from these studies suggest that the music therapy intervention was effective in improving social competence in children and adolescents with social deficits. More research is warranted to provide additional guidance about the use of music therapy interventions to improve social functioning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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