Where does technology fit into music therapy?

A Humanistic Understanding of the Use of Digital Technology in Therapeutic Songwriting

As digital technology continues to alter the way we create and consume music, research from Montclair State University has delved into how its role in therapeutic songwriting can help adolescents to feel a sense of autonomy, express emotions, share personal experiences, and develop a sense of self. Viega (2018) first describes how technology, with its speed and far-reaching capabilities, has made songwriting a more accessible process and given varied individuals power to spread their stories through music. The author discusses how certain characteristics of songwriting technology support a humanistic therapeutic approach. For instance, choosing from a multitude of available sound possibilities provides opportunities for developing a sense of agency and layering or mixing tracks provides opportunities for personalizing sounds and expressing oneself. Viega (2018) further highlights Hip Hop, which often utilizes digital technology, as the current most popular artistic culture. The author draws comparisons between the medium’s origins as a response to oppression and its validation of lived experiences and the humanistic qualities of digital songwriting. Viega (2018) emphasizes how his own clinical experiences listening to digital songs written by adolescent clients who have experienced cultural trauma or adversity has helped him to examine his own white privilege and systematic racism within the community.


Viega, M. (2018). A humanistic understanding of the use of digital technology in therapeutic songwriting. Music Therapy Perspectives, 36(2), 152-160. https://doi.org/10.1093/mtp/miy014