Women's Perceptions of the Usefulness of Group Music Therapy in Addictions Recovery

Susan C. Gardstrom
Abigail Klemm
Kathleen M. Murphy


This study represents our attempt to uncover aspects of group music therapy that women with addictions perceive as useful toward recovery - factors that have yet to be clearly identified in existing literature. Women in residential treatment for addictions to heroin and other substances were surveyed following group music therapy sessions involving vocal and instrumental re-creation, listening, and improvisation. Qualitative content analysis of data revealed four major findings. We learned that treatment is, in fact, seen as useful by these particular women and that Yalom's theory provides a meaningful framework for identifying, understanding, and fostering mechanisms within the group music therapy experience that contribute to improved well-being, such as catharsis, self-understanding, group cohesiveness, and instillation of hope. We also learned that certain intrapersonal aspects of therapy are thought to be helpful, such as those leading to desired changes in mood state, energy, sense of self, and level of enjoyment. Finally, we learned that aspects of therapy appearing in the women's responses tended to be those emphasized in the therapists' session planning and facilitation.