Trauma-focused Group Music and Imagery with Women Suffering from PTSD/Complex PTSD: A Randomized Controlled Study


European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation




Background Women with a history of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). Meta-analyses report that cognitive behavioural therapies (CBTs), followed by eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are the most studied psychotherapies for trauma treatment. Focus primarily lies on individual therapy – even though some studies on group therapy for trauma treatment also exist. Few studies exist regarding other alternative therapy forms, such as art-based psychotherapies or body-focused therapies. Aim This study investigated effects from the group music and imagery (GrpMI) method – a type of receptive music therapy – on trauma-related symptoms in women suffering from PTSD or CPTSD after physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse. Material and methods Using a randomized controlled parallel-group design, a sample of 45 women were either assigned to a treatment group (T) who received 12 weekly treatment sessions of GrpMI or to a waiting list control group (WLC). Self-report scales were administered immediately before and after the intervention and at a three-month follow-up Results A two-way mixed ANOVA showed a large group-by-time interaction effect on PTSD symptom severity (F(1, 42) = 8.68, p = .005 and Cohen's d = 0.94). A repeated-measures ANOVA showed a large effect within the T group (F(1, 20) = 16.6, p = .001, dav = 1.02), and the improvement remained at follow-up. The drop-out rate in the T group was as low as 4.5%. Conclusion The findings suggest that GrpMI may be efficacious for treating women with PTSD/CPTSD, but further controlled studies with larger samples are warranted. The study is registered at (Registration number: NCT03503526)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Abuse; Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music; Community Music Experience; Gender Disparities; Intimate Partner Violence; Mental Health; Music Therapy; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Self-Concept; Self-Report Measures; Symptom Management; Trauma

Indexed Terms

Group music and imagery; Expressive arts; PTSD; Complex PTSD; Women; Psychological trauma

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods

Document Type