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«SONGWRITING IN THERAPY BY JOHN A. DOWNES A Final Project submitted to the Campus Alberta Applied Psychology: Counselling Initiative In partial ...»

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Informing the program coordinator of the sensitivity of client contributions to the music therapy songwriting activity could have positive results. This may lead to increased respect for the music therapist as a professional who is concerned with the well-being of his clients. The coordinator may also become an ally in constructing policies for the agency regarding confidentiality of musical materials produced in the therapy session and construction of consent forms that outline restrictions on use of musical materials for clients and therapists. These are positive results for the therapist as well because agency policy will provide some clarity for ethical practice. Furthermore, the therapist does not have to worry about copyright issues if no recording has taken place, or the music and words for the songs have not been written down in score format. If the music continues to be a temporal event, existing only in the mind of the therapist, it will not be as associated with the client’s lyrics. Music and lyrics can remain separate, and exist together as a song only in the therapy session. Other positive results may include increased respect from the client for the thoughtfulness displayed in regards to safeguarding client confidentiality and putting him first. Also, the client

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as working with a composer or becoming a member of a band.

Negative results from this decision may be that the client will resent the therapist for not allowing him to use the therapist’s music. This may result in a breakdown of the relationship and cessation of songwriting in sessions, or perhaps an end to the music therapy sessions.

Choosing a Course of Action When choosing a course of action one takes into account the principles, values and standards of the CPA code of ethics (2001) as well as any other external considerations. In this ethical dilemma, copyright law has some influence.

The course of action that appears most appropriate in this situation is alternative three. This course of action demonstrates respect for the dignity of persons by refusing to participate in actions that are disrespectful of the moral rights of the client. Fair treatment of all parties is considered and issues of informed consent are addressed. Responsible caring by the therapist is demonstrated by protecting the welfare of the client, being informed of copyright laws that impact the activities of the therapist, analyzing the risks and benefits of the situation, and addressing the lack of knowledge and sensitivity of the program coordinator. Integrity in relationships is demonstrated by avoiding or managing the dual relationship between the client and therapist, avoiding the possibility of exploiting the therapist-client relationship, and being honest in taking credit for the creation of the songs and recognizing the client’s and

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Taking action and accepting responsibility for the consequences of the action is the sixth step in the decision-making process. The music therapist acts on alternative three without fully knowing what the consequences of the action will be. The best course of action is to be fully prepared to meet some opposition when talking to the program coordinator and the client. The therapist may want to write up a summary of the decision-making process and also present supporting documentation from the CPA’s code of ethics (2001), the CATA’s code of ethics (1997), and any supporting articles regarding Canadian copyright law.

Additionally, the therapist is advised to contact the Ethics Chair of the CAMT for additional consultative advice. It is important that the program coordinator and the client understand the process the therapist went through to arrive at his decision, and to see that the process is supported by reasonable thought, consultation, and meaningful documents.

The therapist may realize that his decision could be met with positive results or negative results, and therefore he should have a plan in place to address either situation. If the response to his decision is positive from all parties, then the dilemma has been solved and relationships with the program coordinator and client will continue to be positive. If the program coordinator does not accept the therapist’s decision, he has little recourse for action in a legal sense, but could make life more difficult for the therapist in the working

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program coordinator is obstinate, the therapist may have to address the issue by lodging a complaint with someone in higher authority such as the agency’s Chair of the Board of Directors.

The client may not be as reasonable as the program coordinator in accepting the limitations placed on the songs used in therapy. Again, the therapist needs to be prepared to support his decision by using the CPA code of ethics (2001) and other supporting arguments. A rift may develop in the relationship between the therapist and client, and the therapist is responsible for addressing this breakdown in the working alliance. Therefore, alternative courses of action may need to be presented to the client. Options include continuing with music therapy sessions, discontinuing sessions, making a referral to another music therapist, or accessing community resources such as songwriters’ clubs. If sessions continue, the client must give informed consent regarding the newly understood restrictions placed on the musical materials constructed in the therapy session. He must agree that the songs exist only within the therapy context and have no commercial or performance-based life outside of that context unless otherwise indicated in a permission for use clause of a consent form. Furthermore, the therapist must also agree to these restrictions.





Evaluation of Results The anticipated results of this course of action are positive. The biggest risk of a negative reaction comes from the client. However, the client and therapist have had a fairly long therapeutic relationship in which trust has been

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the client may feel regarding not being able to record a CD of his songs.

Evaluating the results of the course of action helps the therapist determine the appropriateness of any policies he sets or consent forms and agreements he makes in the future. Once the program coordinator has been informed of the complications arising from his suggestions, it is likely that a similar situation will not present itself since measures will be taken to establish policy that would negate any such suggestion by other staff or future clients.

The actions of the therapist in alternative three cover the last two steps of the ethical decision making process. Those steps are assuming responsibility for the consequences of the action and taking the appropriate measures to ensure that the dilemma does not reoccur in the future. These steps are addressed by having the therapist be responsible for healing any rifts between him and the program coordinator or client, and taking action such as changing or stating policies regarding music in the sessions and adapting consent forms to reflect any restrictions on the use of music outside of the session.

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Autoethnography There is a distinction between personal values and professional values. I suppose that if the two are opposed to one another then dissonance or conflict may be the result. Personal values that are somewhat related to the issue in the vignette from this chapter are in regards to my views on my own creative efforts. I value ownership of my creative ideas. I want to profit from my creative efforts. I

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self-esteem. I also value others’ efforts and want to give credit where credit is due.

Professional values that are related to the vignette are in regards to respect and my ability to facilitate growth in others. I respect my clients. They come first when considering any action taken by me in terms of their treatment and program plan. I value and enjoy facilitating creativity in others.

The vignette is somewhat difficult to resolve in that I appreciate and value the songs written in session, yet am forced to give up any permanent sense of ownership of the materials due to the ethical and copyright issues involved. The safest way for me to proceed is to not write down or record anything that is not fully my own creation unless I have informed consent or permission from the client. Alternatively, a written contract can be presented to the client in which all limitations of use for co-created material are stated and agreed upon prior to the start of therapy. It saddens me that such restrictions need to be put in place, but I fully realize that out of respect for the client, confidentiality, informed consent, and dual relationship issues need to be addressed and resolved. Not only does agreement on restrictions for use of session-based music protect the client, but it also protects me as well. That way I can be assured that a song I have helped a client write will not end up being sung by Nickelback or Jann Arden, or even the client himself, thus creating royalties for the client, and nothing for me. Fair treatment, after all, is a two-way street.

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The copyright issue in this chapter concerned the creation of original musical works. Few music therapists are aware of the copyright issues regarding songs that they sing in sessions, record for clients, or perform for the smallest of audiences in their day-to-day work. The fact is that all music that has not become part of the public domain is under copyright, and its use must only take place under license, unless performed for one’s own enjoyment. If a license for a song’s use is not obtained, then using any song under copyright for the purposes of performance or therapy sessions is a violation of copyright law. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) website states, “Buying a CD or other recording only gives you the right to listen to it in private.

The public performance of these musical works is subject to copyright law and therefore requires a SOCAN license” (SOCAN, 2006).

It is not within the scope of this project to explain the intricacies of copyright law in Canada; therefore, the reader is encouraged to access information from the Internet and become informed. Visiting the SOCAN website’s resources and education section is a good place to start learning about copyright.

In terms of techniques that are presented in this guide for songwriting in therapy, therapists and music therapists need to make informed decisions when choosing to use previously composed music as a basis for songwriting with clients. Since therapists are paid for their services, and songs written in therapy may be recorded or performed, using music that is not in the public domain

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Music Therapy (CAMT) needs to address this issue with its membership. It may be that paying a license fee as part of the CAMT membership fee could cover a broad range of music used by therapists.

One final related point concerns the CAMT’s need to address the issue of how songs written in therapy are treated. The ethical dilemma presented in this chapter illustrates that some guidance is necessary so that both clients’ and therapists’ best interests are protected. The CAMT should have best practice guidelines in place in regards to songwriting in therapy and copyright law.

Until guidance is forthcoming from the CAMT, I have included two consent forms in this guide for the readers’ consideration. A copyright lawyer has not reviewed either document, and the author accepts no responsibility for any legal action taken against users of these documents. They are simply presented here to encourage readers to think about their current policies and co-creative interactions with clients.

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This form is a signed agreement between the client, or the client’s designated person, and the therapist/music therapist that states the terms of use and limitations on use in regards to songs written in therapy sessions.

Name of client: …………………………………………………………………………… Please read the following statements before signing this agreement.

Songs that are written in cooperation with my therapist are to be treated with the same sensitivity as session notes. They shall remain confidential and stored in my file unless I give permission for use at a later date, permission to photocopy, or permission to record the song.

Copyright for all songs written in my therapy sessions are assigned to the individual authors. I accept that my copyright is limited to those components of songs that were of my own creation.

Any out of session use of co-created songs that were written in a therapy session can only take place with the informed consent of a song’s co-author. Unless such permission is granted, songs written or recorded in a therapy session cannot be displayed, played, or in any other way used outside of the context of the course of therapy in which they were written.

Client’s/Parents’/Designated Person’s Name and Signature…………………………………………………………………………………..

(print name) (signature) Therapist’s Name and Signature…………………………………………………………………………………..

(print name) (signature) Date:……………………………….

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This form is a signed agreement between the client, or the client’s designated person, and the therapist/music therapist that states the terms of use and limitations on use in regards to a song written in therapy sessions.

Song Title: ………………………………………………………………………………...

Words by:………………………………………………………………………………….

Music by:…………………………………………………………………………………..

Date of composition:……………………………………………………………………...



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