‘‘Some Light at the End of the Tunnel’’: Exploring Users’ Evidence for the Effectiveness of Music Therapy in Adult Mental Health Settings

Gary Ansdell, John Meehan


This study responds to the current demand for evidence of the effectiveness of music therapy in adult psychiatric care and rehabilitation. The qualitative, idiographic, and user-based perspective of the study also responds to the growing requirement that ‘‘evidence-based practice’’ take into account patients’ needs, experiences, and evaluations of services. The study is based on verbal data from 19 patients with chronic mental health problems who completed at least 10 individual sessions of professional music therapy in a London mental health unit. In-depth analysis of semistructured interviews using interpretive phenomenological anal- ysis elicits patients’ experiences of the process of music therapy and its varied benefits for them in relation to their symptoms, coping strategies, and overall quality of life. The data suggest how the approach to music therapy taken in this situation often works in relation to users’ long-standing relationship to music, as expressed through their ‘‘music-health-illness narratives.’’ Participation in music therapy has benefits in itself but can also help reestablish patients’ ongoing use of music as a health- promoting resource and coping strategy in their lives.


music therapy, music improvisation, adult psychiatry, rehabilitation, evidence

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by The International Association for Music & Medicine