A Survey of Music Therapy Methods on Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Units

Kaylie Johnson
Annie Heiderscheit


Mental health settings are common workplaces for music therapists. Few studies have examined the clinical practice and effectiveness of music therapy in adolescent inpatient mental health settings. Additionally, there is little research that discusses how music therapy is implemented and how patient needs are addressed in sessions. The primary purpose of this study was to survey music therapists working in inpatient adolescent mental health treatment regarding their clinical practice to (1) identify goals addressed in music therapy sessions and (2) examine music therapy interventions utilized in adolescent inpatient mental health units. Participants included board-certified music therapists in the United States who were members of the Certification Board for Music Therapists and reported as working or having worked with adolescents in inpatient mental health settings (N = 64). The survey contained 35 questions about demographics, session structure, goals addressed, interventions utilized, and perceptions of the effectiveness of music therapy. The most commonly addressed goals were to improve self-expression, improve self-esteem, increase positive socialization, and increase knowledge and use of coping skills. The most commonly utilized interventions included song discussion, followed by lyric analysis, and songwriting/song composition. In clinical practice, music therapists utilize many different interventions to address a wide range of goals. Goals and interventions utilized are influenced by patient diagnoses, session structure, length of stay, strength of rapport with patients, and theoretical orientation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)