Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Jennifer Cornish

Second Advisor

John McNeill

Third Advisor

Chad Waxman

Fourth Advisor

Brian Gearity


Music therapy, Incompetent to proceed, Mental disability, Developmental disability, ACT


In Dusky v. the United States (1960), the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution requires all defendants to be competent to proceed before the judge issues a verdict. Specifically, to stand trial, defendants must have a factual and rational understanding of court proceedings and the capacity to work with their attorneys. Those who are found incompetent to proceed frequently have severe and persistent mental illness and often exhibit cognitive deficits (Mossman et al., 2007). Competency restoration utilizes therapeutic services to treat symptoms that inhibit defendants from being opined competent to proceed. Existing research suggests music therapy can be used to modulate learning, decrease symptoms of mental illness, and enhance cognitive processes (Werner, Wosch, & Gold, 2017; Nilsson, 2008; Thompson & McFerran, 2015). This review of the literature describes the clinical implications of utilizing music therapy to enhance competency restoration programs and the mechanisms for change based upon Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Ultimately, this enhancement will aim to provide effective services and decrease the length of stay and overall wait time of competency restoration.

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


44 pgs