Reviewing Music Therapy and Military Populations

A review of this nature allowed for a quick, succinct look into the clinical uses of music therapy with the military population and the variety of benefits shown in the current literature. The use of music for entertainment and to increase motivation, stimulation, and morale dates back to the Civil War, and this tradition continued throughout both World Wars. Eventually, in 1945, the military incorporated music into their programs. This marked the very beginning of the music therapy profession!

The medium of music therapy can be used in the treatment of active duty military service members, veterans, and military family members. Music therapists can and have worked with military service members and their families on bases or in Veteran Administration facilities such as hospitals. Within the United States, some of the most treated symptoms within the military populations include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries. Treatment can include, but is not limited to, focusing on the social, communication, cognitive, physical, and psychological domains. During a music therapy session, which can be an individual session or a group session, the board-certified music therapist can use songwriting, instrument play, lyric analysis, and more for treatment.

This scoping review took a look at 27 research articles within the literature. The researchers stated that there is a lot of research to support music therapy being used with the military population. The review also suggested some gaps in the literature, stating that more research is needed, for example, on music therapy and female military service members. More research is always needed to further show the benefits of music therapy with all populations, including military service men and women and their families.

For more information on music therapy, visit our website at or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at

Gooding, L. F., & Langston, D. G. (2019). Music Therapy With Military Populations: A Scoping Review. Journal of music therapy, 56(4), 315–347.


Josie McCutcheon, MT-BC

Senior Music Therapist

Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC