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Music therapy

What is music therapy? 

Music therapy utilises musical experiences and interactions designed to assist people with disorders such as schizophrenia to address issues they may have difficulty with, such as communication and self-regulation. It may be offered through group and individual programmes and does not require a client to have musical skills. Therapists are trained to respond to challenging behaviour using both musical and non-musical strategies. Music therapy can be active (including improvisation, producing music) or receptive (listening to either live or recorded music). The musical therapist can manipulate the rhythmic or harmonic structure to alter therapy intensity. The therapist can also direct the focus of the session to be concentrating on the processes within the music itself, or to focus more on the client’s emotional responses to the music.

What is the evidence for music therapy?

Moderate quality evidence suggests large effects of improved global state and anxiety, and a medium-sized effect of increased musical engagement with music therapy compared to standard care. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests medium to large effects of improved positive and negative symptoms, mood, social functioning, behaviour (including catatonic behaviour), and attention. No significant benefits were found for quality of life, medication levels, study attrition, patient satisfaction, general functioning, working memory, or abstract thinking.


May 2017

Page last updated: 0:23  31 August 2017

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