Toward Understanding Music Therapy as a Recovery-oriented Practice Within Mental Health Care: A Meta-synthesis of Service Users' Experiences


Journal of Music Therapy




BACKGROUND: The perspective of mental health recovery is increasingly shaping mental health care policies. Current texts in music therapy identify the importance of this critical and user-oriented perspective, but the relevance and implications for music therapy need to be outlined. OBJECTIVE: This study explores service users' experiences of music therapy in mental health care, and the potential role of music therapy in the development of recovery-oriented service provision. METHODS: We conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis of studies examining service users' experiences in music therapy; included were 14 studies with a total of 113 participants. Both first-hand account of participants and the researchers' representations of such statements were taken into account in the analysis. FINDINGS: A taxonomy of four areas of users' experiences was identified: "having a good time;" "being together;" "feeling;" and "being someone." These core categories point towards music therapy as an arena that can be used by persons with mental health problems in their personal and social recovery process. Music therapy can contribute to the quality of mental health care by providing an arena for stimulation and development of strengths and resources that may contribute to growth of positive identity and hope for people with mental illness. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this meta-synthesis indicate that the provision of music therapy closely resembles recognized benefits of a recovery-oriented practice. Awareness of users' self-determination and the development of a strength-based and contextual approach to music therapy that fosters mutual empowering relationships are recommended.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Mental Health; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Patient Satisfaction; Psychological Outcomes; Recorded Music Listening; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Mental Disorders; Mental Health Services; Patient Satisfaction

Study Type

Meta-Analysis; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type