Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of the Arts


John J. Cali School of Music

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Brian Abrams

Committee Member

Amy Clarkson

Committee Member

Karen Goodman


The prevalence of adolescents with emotional or behavioral disorders (EBD) is growing by the year, and schools and diagnostic clinicians are having difficulty agreeing on the definition of the terms and diagnoses that fit into the EBD category. As these discrepancies in definitions and requirements can trickle down and affect treatment, it is important to find lasting, effective treatment that can help reduce disruptive behaviors that are often present for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders. This study highlighted two music therapy interventions that are designed to focus on emotional identification, goal setting and the therapeutic relationship. The two interventions were compared and contrasted in their ability to improve classroom performance in an adolescent with an EBD diagnosis and keep the individual focused while maximizing on-task behavior throughout the day. The researcher used an ABAC single subject analysis design to find the behavior differences in a baseline (no treatment) and the two interventions: thematic clinical improvisation and lyric analysis. Case notes, data from observations, and interviews with teachers and the participant were analyzed to draw conclusions on the efficacy of each intervention. Results indicated a higher rate of on-task behavior and classroom performance with music therapy than during the baseline weeks. However, due to extraneous variables, it was difficult to find any support in drawing a conclusion about which therapeutic intervention was more effective, and whether or not the effect continued throughout the day. This study supports the need for further research regarding the benefits of music therapy interventions in a school setting with adolescents who have EBD related diagnoses.

Included in

Music Therapy Commons