A systematic review of music therapy for psychosocial outcomes of substance use clients

T. Edison Carter
Lisa S. Panisch


The objective of this study is to systematically review randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experiments that assess how music therapy affects the psychosocial outcomes of clients who are being treated for substance use concerns. This review includes all RCTs and quasi-experiments published in English-language peer-reviewed journals since 2006 that assess music therapy interventions for substance use. A search of bibliographic databases returned a list of 195 potential studies, which was narrowed to 14 for analysis. Current research supports the possibility that music therapy is an expressive intervention that can reduce depressive symptoms, as well as increase motivation for treatment and readiness to change patterns of substance use. Despite an increase in quantitative research on this topic in the last 10 years, an overall paucity of quantitative studies and lack of long-term research suggest that more primary studies are still needed before any conclusions can be made about the efficacy of music therapy for treating substance use. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)