Songwriting for Self-Concept

After an acquired brain injury or spinal cord injury people often experience significant emotional upheaval as they begin to process and acknowledge the long-term implications of their injuries and how this may change their life. This can often lead to a change in a person’s sense of self because their ability to carry out the roles that previously defined their identity may have changed.

This research project (funded by the Australian Research Council) investigated whether therapeutic songwriting can help people process changes in identity and lead to a more integrated sense of self. Outcomes measures included self-concept, mood, identity, life-satisfaction, and coping. The intervention supported participants over 12 songwriting sessions to write three songs specifically exploring issues of identity – with the aim of participants integrating aspects of the past-pre-injured self with that of the new injured self.

Man sitting in a wheelchair with a guitar


Roddy, C., Rickard, N., Tamplin, J. & Lee, Y. C. & Baker, F. A. (2020). Exploring self-concept, wellbeing and distress in therapeutic songwriting participants following acquired brain injury: A case series analysis. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 30(2). doi 10.1080/09602011.2018.1448288

Baker, F.A., Tamplin, J., Rickard, N., Ponsford, J., New, P. & Lee, Y.C. (2019). A therapeutic songwriting intervention to promote reconstruction of self-concept and enhance wellbeing following brain or spinal cord injury: Pilot randomised controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation.

Baker, F. A., Tamplin, J., Rickard, N., New, P., Ponsford, J., Roddy, C. & Lee, Y. C. (2018). Meaning making process and recovery journeys explored through songwriting in early neurorehabilitation: Exploring the perspectives of participants of their self-composed songs through the interpretative phenomenological analysis. Frontiers in Psychology: Clinical and Health Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01422

Roddy, C., Rickard, N., Tamplin, J. & Baker, F. A. (2018). Personal identity narratives of therapeutic songwriting participants following spinal cord injury: A case series analysis. The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 41(4) 

Baker, F. A., Tamplin, J., MacDonald, R. A. R., Ponsford, J., Roddy, C. & Rickard, N. (2017). Exploring the self through songwriting: An analysis of songs composed by people with acquired neurodisability in an inpatient rehabilitation program. Journal of Music Therapy, 54(1), 35-54. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thw018

Baker, F. A., Tamplin, J., MacDonald, R.A.R., Ponsford, J., Roddy, C., & Rickard, N. (2017). Exploring the self through songwriting: An analysis of songs composed by people with acquired neurodisability in an inpatient rehabilitation program. Journal of Music Therapy.

Viega, M., & Baker, F. A. (2017).  Remixing identity: Creating meaning from songs written by patients recovering from a spinal cord injury using arts-based research. Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 8, 1, 57-73, doi: 10.1386/jaah.8.1.57_1

Viega, M.D. & Baker, F.A. (2016). What’s in a song? Combining analytical and arts-based analysis for songs created by songwriters with neurodisabilities. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. doi 10.1080/08098131.2016.1205651

Tamplin, J., Baker, F. A., MacDonald, R. A. R., Roddy, C. & Rickard, N. S. (2015). A theoretical framework and therapeutic songwriting protocol to promote integration of self-concept in people with acquired neurological injuries. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. 25(2), 111-133. doi: 10.1080/08098131.2015.1011208

Baker, F. A., Rickard, N., Tamplin, J., Roddy, C. (2015). Flow and meaningfulness as mechanisms of change in self-concept and wellbeing following a songwriting intervention for people in the early phase of neurorehabilitation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9, 299doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00299

Media Stories


Herald Sun – “Songwriting Therapy Hits Right Notes” – Lucie Van Den Berg