Using the Healthy-unhealthy Uses of Music Scale as a Single-session Music Therapy Intervention on an Acute Youth Mental Health Inpatient Unit

Cherry Hense
Michael J. Silverman
Katrina Skewes McFerran


Research shows that young people in the mental health sector may use music in ways that support their well-being, and sometimes in ways that result in feeling worse. A Healthy-Unhealthy Uses of Music Scale has been designed and validated to identify uses of music that intensify negative moods or rumination. In this paper we present a practice-based study, designed to examine the value of integrating the HUMS questions into brief music therapy interventions with young people receiving mental health support. We piloted integration of the HUMS into individual single-session music therapy with 23 young people in an acute youth mental health inpatient unit. Metric data from the HUMS were analyzed using quantitative strategies, and written answers to the questions were compared to identify patterns. Results suggested that there was no significant between-diagnosis difference in healthy and unhealthy uses of music. Young people described a range of benefits from the sessions, and these have been considered in relation to music therapy practice. Based on the findings, we offer four recommendations about the use of the HUMS questions for clinicians. We also discuss particular groups of young people for whom this approach might be relevant, as well as limitations of using the HUMS as a screening tool. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)