The purpose of this study is to assess the relationship between survivors of child abuse in music therapy sessions on reported self-esteem and perceived locus of control. Sawyer and Judd (2012) define child abuse as a “tragedy that harms children psychologically, emotionally and physically while disrupting healthy development.” Survivors of childhood trauma must live in fear of the accused perpetrator, go to numerous court proceedings, and manage complications associated with changes in family dynamics. Even though it is typically paired with abuse, because child neglect is legally separated, it will not be included in this study when referring to typical abuse (Sawyer & Judd, 2012). As cited in an article by Sawyer and Judd, there were close to3.3 million referrals of alleged child abuse in the United States of America (2012); this has profound implications on the field of music therapy because of the large amount of potential clients.
There are several domains that must be considered when treating a survivor of child abuse: the need for safety and trust, sense of belonging, protection from perceived or actual threats, facing the defendant in court, prevention of revictimization, and empowerment (Sawyer & Judd, 2012). Davis, 2005, states that “children terrorized through sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse, or wartime atrocities may suffer from lasting wounds, nightmares, depression, and troubled adolescence involving substance abuse, binge eating, or aggression.” Victims of child abuse need to regain their sense of control over their lives. Experiencing healthy relationships, being nurtured by adults and helping them to learn resilience are all interventions that have been well-documented (Sawyer & Judd, 2012). Time after time children have been proven to be resilient when faced with childhood trauma; this is a mostly unserviced population waiting for music therapists to take action (Myers, 2005).
This high likelihood of symptoms related to the traumatic events puts these children in the at-risk category for developmental abnormalities (Myers, 2005). Youth who live in poor socioeconomic areas struggle to maintain health relationships, self-esteem and self expression. There is often an increase in domestic violence and child abuse rates with these youth in poor socioeconomic areas. In a study by Rickson and Watson in 2003, music therapists used music to teach pro-social behaviors to at-risk adolescents. As cited, in a single case study, music therapy increased positive self-verbalizations with an adolescent with conduct disorder. This study revealed a significant difference in the increase of prosocial behaviors with those who received music therapy to those who did not receive music therapy (Rickson & Wilkes, 2003). In a different study, at-risk females worked together to create a music video and therefore, she discusses relationships, self-expression and self-esteem (Smith, 2012).
Many music therapists maintain dual...