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IV. Creative Forces Music Therapy Research

Section 4 of Advances in Creative Forces® Clinical Research and Applications of the Creative Arts Therapies for Treating PTSD and TBI in Military-Connected Populations by Dr. Donna Betts. Photo of creative arts therapists, researchers and community arts providers experiencing a ukelele workshop at George Mason University courtesy of Donna Betts.

Music Therapy Research

Music therapy is an integral component of rehabilitation and is highly valued by patients, families, and interdisciplinary team members in military healthcare (Vaudreuil, Avila, Bradt, & Pasquina, 2019). Seven Creative Forces music therapy research papers, summarized below, have been published to date; they include a scoping review (Gooding & Langston, 2019), small case series, analyses of secondary data (e.g., clinical documentation, program evaluation), innovative music therapy protocols, and a preliminary multi-site study replicating clinical programming

(1) Psychological/behavioral: Music therapy, as demonstrated in the Creative Forces literature, is provided both as integrated care and as a stand-alone treatment for PTSD, addressing such goals as: promoting relaxation and informing mind body connections, emotional regulation, hypervigilance, and sleep disturbance (Bronson, Vaudreuil, & Bradt, 2018). A music therapy group protocol described by Vaudreuil, Biondo, and Bradt (2020) in an interdisciplinary intensive outpatient treatment model was shown to be a useful initial experience in allowing active duty service members to acclimate to music therapy, optimize feelings of safety, and reduce perceptions of threat during emotional risk-taking. The group protocol also includes music therapy interventions that increase awareness of somatic responses to music and have proved moderately-to-very helpful for active duty service members in accessing and expressing their emotions.

(2) Neurological/cognitive: Music therapy interventions used in the Creative Forces program address outcomes related to cognition and memory, focus on attention to tasks, problem-solving, speech and language, auditory processing (auditory perception and tolerance of auditory stimuli), motor control and response, and freedom from headaches (Bronson, Vaudreuil, & Bradt, 2018). As demonstrated in one case report by Vaudreuil, Avila, Bradt, and Pasquina (2019), in collaboration with other treatment disciplines, neurologic music therapy interventions contribute to improvements in articulation, task-attention, and compensatory strategies.

(3) Rehabilitative: According to Vaudreuil, Avila, Bradt, and Pasquina (2019), music therapists can help ease discomfort and difficulty associated with rehabilitation activities, thereby enhancing patient motivation and participation in interdisciplinary care. In collaboration with other treatment disciplines across Creative Forces sites, music therapy co-treatments contribute to improvements in range of motion, functional use of bilateral upper extremities, strength endurance, and breath support. Additionally, across three case examples presented by Vaudreuil, Langston, Magee, Betts, Kass, and Levy (2020), patients reported a decrease in depression, pain, and anxiety.

(4) Social/relational: Music therapy interventions contribute to improvements in social integration, quality of life, and overall motivation in the recovery process (Vaudreuil, Avila, Bradt, and Pasquina 2019). Music therapy enhances interpersonal communication, reduces isolation, supports familial bonding/social engagement, enables exploration of music preferences, and fosters identity and self-efficacy (Bronson, Vaudreuil, & Bradt, 2018). As described by Vaudreuil, Bronson, and Bradt (2019), the use of musical performance in music therapy with military service members with PTSD and TBI can contribute to individual development and rehabilitation as a vehicle for social transformation and re-integration. Music therapy can give patients voice to their experiences, raise awareness of social issues within their communities, and transform perceptions of injury or illness in audience members. Further, music therapy may spur greater support and validation from patients’ communities. Songwriting in the Creative Forces music therapy program enables service members to share their thoughts, emotions, fears, and hopes with family, friends, and other providers, often for the first time, and plays an important role in their personal growth and recovery process (Bradt, Biondo, & Vaudreuil, 2019). Songwriting can also help returning service members to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation by offering a window into service members’ lived experiences of military service, injury, recovery, homecoming, and transition from active duty, particularly in the areas of: (a) personal struggles and barriers to recovery, (b) relational challenges, (c) positive relationships and support, and (d) moving forward.

Continue reading "Advances in Creative Forces Clinical Research": Full PDF ArticleI.Creative Arts Therapies PTSD and TBI ResearchII. Clinical Research, III. Arts Therapy ResearchIV. Music Therapy ResearchV. Telehealth ProgramVI. Conclusion

For more information on Creative Forces clinical research visit the Clinical Research Findings page and the National Resource Center Creative Forces Clinical Research Resources Collection.

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