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International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Abstract

This qualitative heuristic study explored the subjective experience of transformation resulting from the practice of songwriting in nonclinical populations, through semistructured interviews with 12 songwriters, 6 men and 6 women, aged 35-69. Thematic content analysis yielded 6 top-level themes: Connecting, Communicating, Wellbeing, Affirmation, Personal Growth, and Making A Difference. Subthemes of Connecting reflect a wide variety of transpersonal experiences. The Communicating subthemes capture ways in which songwriting afforded participants a language superior to speech for Expressing Feelings, Sharing Self, and Sending A Message. Participants reported Personal Growth, expressed through subthemes Processing Experience (making meaning of painful material) and Empowerment. Learning explicitly that one of their songs had had a significant impact on a listener was the mostly strongly articulated transformative experience for participants, described in Making A Difference. The findings support models of transformation in the expressive arts literature; through transpersonal encounters in liminality, both songwriter and listeners are transformed.

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