The Effect of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life for Participants Living With a Severe and Enduring Mental Illness


Journal of Music Therapy




A 10-week group music therapy project was designed to determine whether music therapy influenced quality of life and social anxiety for people with a severe and enduring mental illness living in the community. Ten one-hour weekly sessions including song singing, song writing and improvisation, culminated in each group recording original song/s in a professional studio. The principal outcome measure was the WHOQOLBREF Quality of Life (QoL) Scale; other instruments used were the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Qualitative data were gathered through focus group interviews and an analysis of lyric themes. Statistically significant improvement was found on five items of the QoL Scale. There were no changes on the BSI indicating that QoL improvement was not mediated by symptomatic change. Themes from the focus groups were: music therapy gave joy and pleasure, working as a team was beneficial, participants were pleasantly surprised at their creativity, and they took pride in their song. An analysis of song lyrics resulted in 6 themes: a concern for the world, peace and the environment; living with mental illness is difficult; coping with mental illness requires strength; religion and spirituality are sources of support; living in the present is healing; and working as a team is enjoyable.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Anxiety Scales; Composition; Elderly; Improvisation; In; Mental Health; Music Medicine; Psychological Outcomes; Quality of Life; Self-Report Measures; Singing a Song; Song Lyric Discussion; Songwriting; Symptom Management; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Adaptation, Psychological; Focus Groups; Mental Disorders; Psychometrics; Psychotherapy, Group; Quality of Life; Self-Assessment; Surveys and Questionnaires

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

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Document Type