The Impact of Group Music Therapy on Negative Affect of People with Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illnesses

  • Gardstrom S
  • Bartkowski J
  • Willenbrink J
 et al. 
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The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of group music therapy on levels of self-reported negative affect (NA) among men and women on a residential unit of an integrated dual diagnosis treatment program. More specifically, we sought to determine if, and to what degree engagement in composition, receptive (listening), re-creation (performing), and improvisation experiences would result in a shift—namely, a decrease—in the intensity of self-reported NA. Participants were adults in residential treatment who had been diagnosed with co-occurring substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental illnesses (MIs), predominantly mood and anxiety disorders. Twenty group-music-therapy sessions were held on the unit. Three researcher-developed visual analogue scales were used to assess pre and postsession levels of anxiety, anger, and sadness. In total, 89 surveys were analyzed. Results indicate that nearly a third of the participants who were involved in the treatment groups reported a decrease in anxiety, sadness, and anger combined, with more than half of the responses in each of these three emotional states indicating a decrease. While these are encouraging results, generalization of findings is limited primarily by the use of a nonstandardized measurement tool, the absence of a control group, the possibility of intentional deceit, and the potential for researcher bias in the collection and compilation of the data.

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  • Susan C. Gardstrom

  • Jacklyn Bartkowski

  • Joy Willenbrink

  • Wiebke S. Diestelkamp

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