There is a wealth of research supporting music therapy in mental health treatment, but a surprising lack of research regarding music therapy for women with addictions. In “Women’s perceptions of the usefulness of group music therapy in addictions recovery”, Gardstrom, Klemm, & Murphy (2017) look to the women within treatment for their thoughts about the effectiveness of music therapy in their own treatment.
Participants engaged in two, 50 minute group music therapy sessions per week and there were about 10 women in each session. On average, women in the study attended one to five music therapy sessions before leaving the facility. Sessions were flexible and focused upon the immediate and emerging needs of the women in the session. Each session contained a musical check in (focusing on emotional states with a frame drum) and included either recreation (with vocal chant or familiar songs with instruments), Listening (discussing familiar songs, imagery with or without mandalas), or improvisation (melodic and rhythmic). Feedback regarding the group was voluntary and could be given verbally or anonymously on a blank index card.
The most highly cited themes in the feedback from the women regarding the benefits of music therapy were catharsis (25), alters feelings/mood in desired direction (24), calms/relaxes (22), and self understanding (13). The researchers found that the majority of participants (all but two responses) found music therapy to be useful in the recovery process.
This study shows that women in addictions treatment perceive music therapy as helpful in their recovery process while highlighting the importance of the viewpoints of clients in their own music therapy experience. For more information regarding music therapy, please continue to www.centralohiomusictherapy.com or www.musictherapy.org.
By Jessica Fletcher, MM, MT-BC
Gardstrom, S. C., Klemm, A., & Murphy, K. M. (2017). Women’s perceptions of the usefulness of group music therapy in addictions recovery. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 26(2), 338–358.