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

John Carpente

Committee Member

Molly Griest


Mental illness in the United States affects approximately 9.6 million adults, or 4.1% of the population (NIMH, 2014). Thought disorders are most often associated with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders, but can be present in other forms of mental illness, as well. Traditionally, the term thought disorder is defined as a disorder of cognitive organization in form and content, as indicated by disordered speech, delusions, disturbed sense of self, and abnormal psychomotor behavior (APA, 2013). The current methods of assessment primarily rely on the patients’ verbal language, however the literature indicates that there are limits to confining understanding to the verbal domain.

Based upon the literature, the construct of thought can largely be understood in terms of the interplay among the constructs of temporality, affect, and relationship, thus suggesting an expansion of the definition of thought disorder from “a disorder of cognitive organization” to “a disorder of being.” As such, it is proposed that this is better assessed through music rather than through the traditional modality of spoken language.

The purpose of this study is to establish foundations for a system of music therapy assessment, and concomitant treatment, for adults with thought disorders. In this thesis, related literature, theoretical foundations, case illustrations, and practical implications will be explored.

File Format


Included in

Music Therapy Commons