Weaving Words and Music: Healing from Trauma for People With Serious Mental Illness


Music and Medicine




This article presents the development of music-verbal therapy trauma groups for people with serious mental illness. The work grew out the collaboration of an interdisciplinary trauma committee in an urban mental health center. Recognizing the high rates of childhood trauma in this population, members of the committee developed interventions targeting their specific needs. The collaboration of music and verbal therapies was found to be very valuable in the treatment of complex trauma. The article outlines the interdisciplinary collaboration and the structure of the groups. Elements of music as tools in trauma treatment are described along with using words to identify specific problems and solutions. Examples of the authors’ clinical work are shared from this interweaving of words and music. Brief vignettes demonstrate survivors’ journeys as they begin to identify and create safety, build healthy relationships, and maintain equilibrium while facing the challenges of their past traumatic experiences. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Engagement Level; Mental Health; Music Medicine; Positive Verbalizations; Psychological Outcomes; Trauma

Indexed Terms

childhood trauma; serious mental illness; interdisciplinary group; verbal therapy; Mental Disorders; Trauma; Childhood Adversity; Group Psychotherapy; Interdisciplinary Treatment Approach

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type