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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Music Therapy

First Advisor

Feilin Hsiao

First Committee Member

Thomas Nelson

Second Committee Member

Eric Waldon


Caregivers of persons with dementia often struggle to sustain meaningful communication and reciprocal emotional connection due to the deterioration in functional memory and the resulting diminishment of social-interactive abilities in their loved one. The very personhood of the care recipient is also often compromised by the reduction in those socio-communicative capacities, which in turn, can impact the function of the caregiving relationship. Emotional, as well as social isolation can increase for the familial caregiver just as it often does for the care recipient. This thesis examines the impact that an individualized, home-based music therapy program had on the emotional connection and reciprocal interactions of four familial caregiving dyads. Data were collected over a month-long period using qualitative research methods including pre and post interview, a caregiver's journal log, researcher's journal log, participation, direct observation, and the observations of the caregiver respondents themselves as they engaged in the therapeutic process with their familial care recipient. Through a cross-case analysis of data collected, four main themes emerged to reflect the experiences of the participants. These were: 1) a longing for reciprocity, 2) the experience of emotional reciprocity, 3) the emergence of personhood through shared musical experiences, and 4) perseverance in the pursuit of meaningful communication. Sub-themes, and themes relating to the researcher's participatory experiences are also included. Implications for further research are discussed.





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