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Research into the Effect of Music Therapy on Prison Inmates

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 1848 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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What are the effects of music therapy on prison inmates and how would it affect life after prison?

Summary of the research question and outcome

My research project topic was chosen from the starting point of my love for music. I had always felt a deep connection to music and the messages it delivered and I wanted to research further into what else music offered in modern society. From this I discovered music therapy. As I researched I discovered that music therapy is a practise that utilises the key factors of learning music to help a range of different disabilities/ailments. From this I developed my research question. The biggest way I used to collect information where thought internet articles, documentaries and pre-existing interviews. My outcome was in the form of a report explaining and displaying the results of my research. The key findings found from my research was that music therapy is a form of psychological treatment that directly correlates to the problems of modern day prisoners. Music therapy would help decrease prisoner’s anxiety, depression and provide a career path. (155 Words).

Evaluation of the research processes used

 1: Internet Articles, written for the web

The use of internet articles was valid in that it provided current information on what music therapy is and particularly how it operates in modern day society, as noted by GoodTherapy.org (2013) and Psych Central (2018). In the outcome, these sources were mostly used to support larger, and more in depth sources. The information found by using internet articles were “mostly” reliable in the fact that none of the other sources from this type contradicted the other sources. The internet articles used were written recently meaning that the information within is current and therefore more reliable. The reliability of internet articles was heavily limited by the fact that most of the authors that had no formal qualification in the field of music therapy such as a doctorate or degree, and as a result can’t be considered experts in the field. However, most of the authors did cite and reference relevant sources from experts, other qualified individuals as well as organisations and government websites.

2: Pre-conducted interviews

The use of Pre-conducted interviews in my outcome and research was incredibly valid because it provided information that was often more comprehensive than the internet articles. The use of pre-conducted interviews was especially useful finding more comprehensive and more in-depth answers to questions such as Is that the goal of music therapy – to bring about a more positive emotional state through the communication of music?” Elizabeth Huss (2018). Pre-conducted interviews allowed me to find information specific to the topic/s within my research.

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This process meant that finding a relevant/valid source more difficult compared to other processes. This was why this research process (although it provided the most information) was the hardest to find relevant information in regards to the topic. The information found from this process was highly reliable. As these sources are interviews it is very likely that they contain a high level of bias towards to topic. However, the bias was taken into account and the opinions of an expert (in this case, Elizabeth Huss, completed her degree in music therapy at the University of Dayton in Ohio and won the E. Thayer Gaston prize for excellence from her honours thesis on the topic of The Effects of Music Therapy Interventions on State Anxiety of Women in Crisis) was utilised to gain a more balanced viewpoint. A limitation of this process was that it was difficult to located and utilise pre-conducted interviews to answer specific questions to the topic and meant that most of the sources were not relevant at all.

 3: Documentaries/Factual films

The use of Documentaries and factual was yet, another incredibly valid process because it provided more comprehensive information when compared to the information gained from the use of internet articles. This documentaries were useful for finding information from the specific topics within my research (Music Therapy and Prison) because it provided a way better insight into the topic. In this case, it was a KPBS News documentary on the topic of life in prison). Furthermore, this source proved a centre/basis for much of the research and information. Though this was the only source of this process used in the research, it provided a comprehensive view of not only life in prison, but also the effects of prison on mental health, physical condition but also how prison have been treating these conditions. 

This process was highly reliable because it was aired on television in the United States, it was likely that it had extensive editing and fact checking before being aired. Furthermore, the author’s (KPBS News) are highly a regarded new station having aired similar sources on the topic. The primary purpose of the documentary was to inform/educate their views on the topic so it highly likely that the information contained in subject to bias. A weakness of this source was that it decided to focus more on the living situation of the prisoners than the opportunities given to them in prison and what a day in prison is like.

Evaluation of challenges, the decisions made to combat those and/or the opportunities specific to the research

The biggest challenges that I faced (along with many others) was that within my research most of the information was based on subjective material meaning that more of my research consisted of opinions and theories. This meant it was “harder” to come to a conclusion from the information on my topic. I made a significant effort to overcome this. I combated this challenge by allowing for a range of credible sources which were valid to my topic and reached the same conclusions. Furthermore, the nature of the topic of music therapy and prison inmates allowed me to have the opportunity to fully consider and assess the strengths, limitations, bias, reliability and validity of the statements presented by a number of sources.

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Another challenge I faced within my research was the challenge of lining up a one on one interview with a registered music therapist. I directed myself towards the Australian Music Therapy Association and found contact details for registered music therapists I emailed them all separately asking for a one on one interview or to simply reply to the attached questions so that I could use their information, and credit them in my research project. For each I received the same email back explain that with the huge amount of emails each year in regards to questions in relation to research project they hold a group “questioning” session with music therapists. I was unavailable on this date and emailed back to see if there was an alternative date/second session. There was not. This hindered the use of primary sources in my research and therefore made it more difficult to answer my question. I endeavoured to overcome this by looking online and finding pre-conducted interviews and therefore find the answers to similar questions I had in regards to the topic of music therapy and then conducted an interview analysis on each.

Evaluation of my research Outcome

The outcome was based heavily on secondary research because I was unable to find suitable, valid and most importantly relevant primary sources. This challenge didn’t affect the quality of the outcome because I “sought out” reliable secondary sources that were sufficient in conveying the opinions of the authors, especially in sources that contained concrete facts. In order to compensate for the lack of primary sources I decided that the credibility of the authors of all of the different sources to be used in the outcome would be heavily vital to the validity of my outcome. This was satisfied from the inclusion of many different expert’s, government/organisational websites, and experts such as Elizabeth Huss. I was able to answer my question successfully.

This research is a good piece of knowledge within the field of research of music therapy and its direct affects. However, it will be unlikely that my outcome will be of great use to the general public because of the lack of primary sources. Furthermore, as my outcome reflects on the effects of music therapy and the opinions of the authors of my sources it does not provide more insight into the topic, it is likely to be of limited value. However, this would’ve been “the case” anyways because I am not an expert myself. I am not an expert in prison psychology or music therapy and therefore I can’t provide a better insight into new information with a great degree of authority.

Overall my outcome is complete, effective and thorough. This was been my information was well researched, cited and valid to the topics of my research question. My outcome successfully answers the question of “What are the effects of music therapy on prison inmates and how would it affect life after prison?” (1401 Words).


1.       Psych Central. (2016). The Power of Music To Reduce Stress. [online] Available at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].
2.       GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog. (2013). The Effects of Incarceration on Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/prison-incarceration-effects-mental-health-0315137 [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].
3.       Performingartsschools.com. (2018). Interview with Music Therapist, Elizabeth Huss | PerformingArtsSchools.com . [online] Available at: http://performingartsschools.com/resources/interview-with-music-therapist-elizabeth-huss [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].
4.       YouTube. 2018. Life In Prison: A Project Envision Documentary – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alcK_QBE7h8. [Accessed 23 October 2018].
5.       Austmta.org.au. (2018). What is Music Therapy?. [online] Available at: https://www.austmta.org.au/content/what-music-therapy [Accessed 23 Oct. 2018].
  1. YouTube. 2018. What is Music Therapy? – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxbd23COYKk. [Accessed 23 October 2018].


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