Music Therapy and Emotional Exploration: Exposing Substance Abuse Clients to the Experiences of Non-drug-induced Emotions


The Arts in Psychotherapy




Recent cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches to treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) have emphasized the need for clients to explore emotional regulation and experiential avoidance. This study aimed to determine whether music therapy programs situated within a CBT framework facilitated the exploration of emotions in 24 adults with SUD attending a hospital open group CBT program. In a 7-week trial, the impact of a single music therapy session on participants’ emotional experience was assessed using a self-report questionnaire at the end of each participant's first session. Results indicated that music therapy sessions facilitate the experiencing of predominantly positive emotions, and that these were experienced to a moderate or high degree. Participants reported that music therapy was beneficial in allowing them to experience emotions without the need for substance use. It is recommended that clinicians include interventions that encourage the exploration of negative emotions so that clients can experience these in a safe environment.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Emotional Functioning; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Questionnaires; Recorded Music Listening; Self-Report Measures; Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction

Indexed Terms

Emotional regulation; Experiential avoidance; Interoceptive cues; Substance use disorders

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type