Music therapy with children who have been exposed to ongoing child abuse and poverty: A pilot study

A 2015 study conducted in South Korea found that music therapy can be an effective treatment protocol for young children who have been victims of familial physical or emotional abuse and neglect.  The researcher randomly selected four children who were identified as victims of abuse and neglect to participate in the study. All four children exhibited low academic achievement, had difficulties maintaining good peer relationships at school, spoke almost inaudibly, and were passive and withdrawn during intake interviews.

Each child received weekly 40-50 minute individual music therapy sessions for 15 consecutive weeks.  The music therapy sessions were performed by two trained music therapist, who encouraged each child to make interventions choices according to her own or his own preference.  The music therapists created individual goals for each child, but general goals for the study were: to facilitate spontaneous self-expression, communication and social interaction, and to provide emotional support to each child.

After music therapy treatment, results indicated improvement in the children’s behaviors and moods.  Teachers reported improved mood, attention span, learning ability, social attitude, and self-expression.  Two children also became much more assertive after participating in music therapy.

Though results were somewhat varied from child to child, overall music therapy was shown to be a potential treatment that can help children who are experiencing abuse and neglect.

By Amber Bruns, MT-BC

Kim, J. (2015).  Music therapy with children who have been exposed to ongoing child abuse and poverty: A pilot study. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy (24)1, 27- 43.