Is There a Role for Music Therapy in the Recovery Approach in Mental Health?

Tríona McCaffrey
Jane Edwards
Dominic Fannon


The recovery approach in mental health care emphasises the importance of the service user leading a fulfilling, meaningful life beyond the limitations of illness or symptomatology. This approach to care is increasingly included as a central part of mental health policy and service provision in a number of countries including the UK and Ireland, to address the needs of people who have severe and enduring mental disorders. It is an autonomous, holistic and empowering way of working with individuals as they journey towards healing. Fundamental to this model is the relationship fostered between service users and health professionals. The recovery philosophy of care mirrors some of the core principles of music therapy, including the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the possibilities for change and growth within this. This paper explores the congruence between music therapy and the recovery approach by providing: (1) An overview of current published evidence for music therapy in mental health care. (2) A discussion of this psycho-social creative arts therapy intervention within the specialized area of recovery in psychiatry, and (3) case vignettes to illustrate the application of this philosophy in music therapy work within a recovery service. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)