Adolescence is a unique time when music is most important in our lives. If music itself is so important and effective with teens, what further benefits could music therapy provide for these individuals? Shuman, et al, looked into how music therapy in groups can affect the mood of adolescents in a psychiatric hospital setting, (Shuman, 2016).
In this study, children and adolescents, ages 12 to 21 years participated in at least one music therapy group and completed a standard mood assessment before and after the group. This measure included questions such as, “how do you feel right now?” and “how did you feel during group?” Teens on a psychiatric unit may present with social withdrawal, inability to connect with others, anger/aggression, etc. Because of the variety of symptoms, music therapy groups were adapted to meet the needs of those in the group. This could span from listening to/sharing and discussing preferred music and expanding this listening to a purposeful coping skill or for social support to drumming or improvisation for socialization and emotional expression.
This study found that there was a decrease in perceived negative mood states and increasing awareness of those emotional mood states. The researchers were surprised to find that symptoms of fatigue and low energy changed the most for music therapy group participants. This study was only able to measure the immediate effects of music therapy groups, not the long term effects.
This study shows that music therapy groups can have an immediate effect on the mood, awareness of emotional states, and fatigue/energy for teenagers in psychiatric care. More music therapy groups in conjunction with traditional treatment could be beneficial for these adolescents in acute psychiatric treatment. For more information on how music therapy can help you or your teen, visit www.musictherapy.org or www.centralohiomusictherapy.com.
By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC
Shuman, J., Kennedy, H., Dewitt, P., Edelblute, A., & Wamboldt, M. Z. (2016). Group music therapy impacts mood states of adolescents in a psychiatric hospital setting. The Arts in Psychotherapy,49, 50-56. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2016.05.014