CAHSS Faculty Presentations, Proceedings, Lectures, and Symposia


Theme Song for Change: Using Music to Enhance Client Resources

Event Name

International Family Therapy Association World Congress

Event Location

Bangkok, Thailand


Department of Family Therapy

Document Type


Presentation Date



Strength-based therapists have adopted Milton Erickson’s concept of utilization where the therapist utilizes whatever clients bring with them into session to help them move toward change. One aspect of clients that may be underutilized in session is their connection to music. People connect to music on at least two levels; the actual music and the meaning of the lyrics. However, family therapists have been hesitant to use musical interventions in their work, although they are curious about their use (Nemesh, 2017). This hesitancy to use music in therapy may be because therapists might not be musically inclined or trained in music therapy. Yet, the inclusion of various aspects of music in therapy does not need to be complicated. This presentation will explain a technique that uses a client’s chosen theme song as a way to access underutilized resources that can be extremely useful to help clients live more fulfilling lives. These resources are metaphors of aspects of living the client may not have been engaging in to the level where they find it useful. This technique has been used with individuals, couples, and families where clients contemplate important messages from the music. These messages are related to values and practices they may not have been honoring in their lives. These values, practices, and meanings are personal resources that can be accessed and utilized to enhance the client’s life. The rationale, application, and implications of this technique will be discussed.