Music therapy promotes emotional skills in adolescents

This article examined whether music therapy promotes emotional skills in adolescents with a mental health condition, and whether those skills transfer to real life situations. “Emotional skills” were arranged into 6 categories, ranging from awareness, expression, and understanding of self and others’ emotions, and regulating one’s own emotions. This information was then broken into skill sets of behaviour, problem solving, empathy, and societal roles on both an individual and social level.

The findings support music therapy to reduce anxiety, depression, and impulsiveness in adolescents. It also increases self-esteem, emotional responsiveness, self-regulation, and help develop a self-image.

Music therapy provides cognitive, emotional and physical experiences through music-based and non-music-based methods. Gradually, the client achieves an understanding of emotional skills, which progressively leads to desirable changes in daily function. – Salokivi, M., et al. (2023)

The authors illustrate how playing music with others (particularly improvising music on the spot with other players) fosters listening, concentration, and consideration skills that transfer into social skills – particularly awareness of other people’s needs and emotions (empathy), and regulation of each other’s emotions – in real life.


 Salokivi, M., Salantera, S., Saarikallio, S., & Ala-Ruona, E. (2023). Promoting emotional skills in early adolescents with mental health conditions in music therapy – a content analysis of focus group interviews. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 32(5), 423–444.

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