Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Tuning Relationships With Music: Intervention for Parents With a Trauma History and Their Adolescent

V. M. Colegrove
S. S. Havighurst
C. E. Kehoe
S. L. Jacobsen


For parents who have experienced childhood interpersonal trauma, the challenges of parenting an adolescent may trigger memories of abuse, intensifying conflict, resulting in negative cycles of relating and poorer responsiveness to emotions when parenting. This study examined whether Tuning Relationships with Music, a dyadic therapy for parents and adolescents, increased responsive parent-adolescent interactions and parent emotion coaching whilst reducing conflict and adolescent mental health difficulties. Twenty-six parent-adolescent dyads were recruited if parents had a trauma history and the dyad were currently having high levels of conflict. Dyads were randomly allocated into intervention or wait-list control and completed questionnaires and observation assessments at baseline and 4-month post-baseline follow-up. Those allocated to the intervention condition participated in 8 sessions of Tuning Relationships with Music. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ANZCTR: 12615000814572. Parents and adolescents reported significant reductions in conflict. Parents in the intervention condition were observed to significantly improve their nonverbal communication, emotional responsiveness and non-reactivity toward their adolescent. Although parents reported they were less dismissive and punitive, and more encouraging of their adolescent's emotions, and both parents and adolescents reported improvements in the adolescent's mental health, these were not statistically significant. Findings suggest Tuning Relationships with Music may assist parents with a history of childhood interpersonal trauma and their adolescent to reduce conflict and increase responsive ways of relating that may positively impact the young person's mental health. Future trials with a larger sample are warranted.