Abstract: Factors Contributing to the Intentional Use of Music for Therapeutic Benefits and Community Improvement (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

Factors Contributing to the Intentional Use of Music for Therapeutic Benefits and Community Improvement

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 9, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Raphael Travis, DrPH, Associate Professor, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
Scott Bowman, PhD, Associate Professor, Texas State University, TX
Ian Levy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Manhattan College, NY
Alex Crooke, PhD, Research Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia

This study examined predictors of active and intentional uses of music for the promotion of personal growth and development and community well-being within a sample of emerging adults. Music integrated strategies are cited as culturally responsive in general, with certain strategies like Hip Hop and Rap Therapy approaches being especially attentive to issues of inequity and injustice. Firm empirical support for motivating factors for empowering music engagement is needed.


Data were collected using a cross-sectional survey design. Measures included, the validated and reliable ICE Inventory (empowering engagement), individual questions based on listening habits and reasons for listening, and a proxy for the EMPYD indicator for connection. All were administered in English as part of a study on music and well-being study. A convenience sample was recruited from incoming undergraduate students attending orientation workshops at a university in the southwest United States. The questionnaires and study were introduced at the start of workshop presentations; at one workshop day over three days. The duration of actual data collection in each workshop was between twenty and thirty minutes. The final consenting sample was of approximately 350 students. Indicative of first-year college students, the vast majority were 18 years of age (81%) with 17 and 19 year old students comprising the bulk of the remaining sample. The sample was majority female at 61% of the total. It was also 40% White, 28% Latino/Hispanic, 12% Black, 5% Multi-racial, and smaller proportions for other groups.

Multiple regression examined predictors of empowering music engagement. Predictors were added based on hypotheses from (a) prior research examining listening habits, aspects of racial identity, and depressive symptoms, (b) intentional music use, and (c) empowerment-based positive youth development.  


Results supported a model with 45% of variability in empowering music engagement predicted. First, the model was consistent with prior research demonstrating hours listening, and time spent exploring one’s own race/ethnicity, predicted empowering engagement. Listener intention, specifically motivation for personal and community improvement, connection, and prioritizing lyrical analysis over beats alone each added significantly to the model.

Conclusions and Implications:

The findings suggest that more attention is given to passive and active engagement of music lyrics by social work professionals and that youth on a more positive developmental trajectory may be more inclined to empowering music engagement. It also points to potential motivating factors for students that actively use music for the promotion of personal growth and development and community well-being. During the assessment process it may be possible to identify individuals that may be more receptive to creative arts based strategies in general, and music integrated interventions specifically. Further, it may be possible to help develop policies and procedures that support intentional and conscious use of music by individuals needing help whether or not they participate in traditional therapeutic activities.