Music therapy treatment of active duty military: An overview of intensive outpatient and longitudinal care programs

Music therapy has been a growing treatment option for military populations. In fact music therapy as a profession finds its origins in the military settings of World War I and World War II Veterans as music for wounded soldiers was included as a part of reconditioning treatment. In “Music Therapy Treatment of Active Duty Military: A Overview of Intensive Outpatient and Longitudinal Care Programs”, two music therapy programs working with military populations are outlined.

In two settings, The National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (NICoE) and Intrepid Spirit Center at Fort Belvior Community Hospital (ISFB), music therapy is used as a supportive treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Music Therapy interventions are focused on building stress management and improving day to day functionality. The primary overlapping areas of need with these two diagnoses are reconnecting with a sense of self, adapting to post injury abilities, increasing socialization, and increasing tolerance to auditory stimuli.

At NICoE, there is a 4 week outpatient program including Movement, Music, Meditation (a wellness facilitation using music to form connection through body/sensory awareness), Introduction to music therapy (music listening tasks, emotional regulation through music, music relaxation techniques), songwriting/jam group (music for social engagement and communication), and creativity and closure group (final expressive works with live music improvisation).  Clients are also provided a 60-minute individual session the same week as the songwriting/jam group.

ISFB is also a 4 week outpatient setting, but clients are able to attend music therapy sessions at any point in their treatment. Each session has a theme of music listening, active music making, music for relaxation, or songwriting/music composition. Clients can also opt into individual sessions at any time along with group treatment. Music therapy treatment in this setting is based upon the concept of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt/heal through other pathways in the brain around the damaged areas) and music’s ability to affect multiple neural networks which can encourage rebuilding connections between the damaged regions of the brain. For more information on music therapy, please visit or .

Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC

Bronson, H., Vaudreuil, R., & Bradt, J. (2018). Music therapy treatment of active duty military: An overview of intensive outpatient and longitudinal care programs. Music Therapy Perspectives,36(2), 195-206.