The Effects of Group Improvisational Music Therapy on Depression in Adolescents and Adults With Substance Abuse: A Randomized Controlled Trial


Yadira Albornoz


Nordic Journal of Music Therapy




The effect of group improvisational music therapy on depression in adolescents and adults with substance abuse was investigated. It was hypothesized that group improvisational music therapy would relieve depressive symptoms. Twenty-four Spanish-speaking patients receiving treatment for substance abuse at Fundacion Jose Felix Ribas (FJFR) in Merida-Venezuela participated in the study. Participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) before being randomly assigned to experimental or control groups, each consisting of three cohort groups recruited over a nine-month period. The experimental group received 12 group improvisation sessions over a three-month period, along with the standard treatment program provided at the facility, and the control group received only the standard treatment program. Post-test measures were completed at the end of each three-month treatment cycle. Differences between the groups (pre-test-post-test scores) were calculated (Mann-Whitney U Test). Results showed that both groups were equally matched on all pre-test measures. As for post-test measures, significant differences were found between the groups on HRSD but not the BDI. The experimental group was significantly less depressed after treatment than the control group, as measured by the HRSD. Improvisational music therapy led to statistically significant greater improvements in psychologist-rated depression (HRSD) when compared with the regular treatment program alone; improvisational music therapy had a clinically significant effect. Among limitations of the study were: a small sample size and the absence of a depression assessment tool for substance abuse. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

Music and Health Institute Terms

Adolescents; Depression; Improvisation; Inpatient Rehabilitation; Mood Scales; Music Medicine; Self-Report Measures; Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction

Indexed Terms

Mental depression; Teenagers; Drug abuse; Psychotherapy; Improvisation

Study Type

Quantitative Methods; Randomized Controlled Trial

Document Type