Music therapy increases emotional expression and sociability, and reduces aggression, in clients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, or bipolar disorder. 

This study analysed videos to establish the impact of music therap of adult participants living with either schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or bipolar disorders over 5 individual music therapy sessions, to assess how music therapy affected their social skills, group cohesion, and emotional expression. The researchers wanted to add more supporting evidence for music therapy for schizophrenia bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. The participants attended group music therapy sessions between March and December 2019. Originally, this group came together with the goals of promoting wellbeing, empowering self-esteem, increasing personal growth, developing relationships and expand social networks through music. Importantly, the group was focused on participants’ strengths and resources rather than their psychopathology.
“Sharing music gradually created a safe place for each group member as they became familiar with each other and developed interpersonal skills as well as musical skills”
The results were that all participants – each experiencing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or a schizoaffective disorder – increased social skills, group cohesion, emotional expression, and musical activity. The biggest increase was musical activity, which increased 19-fold, followed by social skills and group cohesion which improved by just shy of 5-fold. (These measures are medians). Over the course of the study it was established that  long term group music-making fosters emotional expression, increased facial expression, and increased sociability. The researchers also reported a reduction in aggressiveness over the study period. This supports music therapy as an effective intervention to achieve social recovery and wellbeing.
Group music making doesn’t just have to be in a large social setting – it can be as simple as coming together with your music therapist to jam out on your favourite music. Through this process, skills in negotiation, attention, listening, communicating and boosting enjoyment of life all come together to improve wellbeing. Musical skills learnt in this setting can also foster participants to continue to connect socially in society through their newfound confidence, interests and skills in music. Make an inquiry for music therapy in Canberra!
Schneidman, A., Elefant, C., Keren, R., Ben-Shachar, S., & Roe, D. (2024). Group music therapy for people living with mental health conditions in the community: A pilot longitudinal quantitative micro-analysis study. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 33(1), 29–47.

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