Developing an air guitar group for an inpatient psychiatry unit


  • David James Meagher University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical School
  • Ian Murphy
  • Mary Mulligan
  • Pollyanna Bolger
  • Aoife Leahy
  • Hilary Moss



The phenomenon of air guitar has become increasingly popular in mainstream society and recognised as a potential means of enhancing one’s sense of mental well-being. It allows for engagement with music that involves physical activation and can be conducted in groups allowing for non-verbal socialisation. To date, there has been limited examination of its potential usefulness in therapeutic settings, including in mental health services. We describe the development of an air guitar group in an inpatient psychiatry service including an iterative approach to the design of sessions and the impact in terms of patient engagement and feedback. The format of the group evolved over time according to feedback from participants and staff involved in patient care on the unit. We found that the group successfully engaged patients of varying age, gender and diagnostic profiles and was perceived as a valuable addition to the inpatient therapeutic programme. Based upon our observations during this pilot study, we outline a suggested format for air guitar sessions that includes our experiences around selection of music, duration of sessions, use of props, managing the physical demands of sessions and ensuring participant safety. Future work can investigate the impact of air-guitar as a therapeutic activity in other settings (including community-based) and exploring how it can be best applied in combination with other therapeutic modalities for use in patients with differing diagnostic and demographic profiles.

Author Biography

David James Meagher, University of Limerick Graduate Entry Medical School

Head of Department, Foundation Chair in Psychiatry


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