Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network

Music Therapy Research

Key Creative Forces clinical research findings indicate:

  • Music therapy is provided as integrated care and stand-alone treatment for PTSD to address behavioral health goals such as: promoting relaxation, informing mind body connections, emotional regulation, hypervigilance, and sleep.
  • Music therapy in the treatment of TBI addresses cognition and memory, sustained/focused attention to task, divided attention/multitasking, problem-solving skills, speech and language, auditory processing (auditory perception and tolerance of auditory stimuli), motor control and response, and headaches.
  • In collaboration with other treatment disciplines, music therapy contributes to improvements in articulation, task-attention, and compensatory strategies.
  • Music therapy can enhance interpersonal communication, reduce isolation, and support familial bonding/social engagement.
  • In collaboration with other treatment disciplines, music therapy contributes to improvements in range of motion, functional use of bilateral upper extremities, strength endurance, and breath support.

Additional research outcomes can be found in the Summary of Creative Forces Music Therapy Research Findings.

Creative Forces Music Therapy Research and Clinical Practice Papers

This section provides links to published research and clinical practice papers associated with Creative Forces. A catalogue of completed, current, and pending research and clinical practice papers is included in the Creative Forces Research Inventory.

  • Using distance technology to deliver the creative arts therapies to veterans: Case studies in art, dance/movement and music therapy
    Three case studies of veterans are presented who received either art therapy, dance/movement therapy or music therapy via in-home, synchronous clinical video telehealth through a VA medical center in the southeastern United States. As the use of distance technology becomes more widely implemented within healthcare, it becomes increasingly important for providers to receive adequate training and develop comfort and confidence in adapting their practices to distance delivery. Case studies are one way for creative arts therapists to conceptualize and demonstrate how their in-person practices can be adapted for distance delivery via telehealth.

  • Songs created by military service members in music therapy: A retrospective analysis
    This study analyzed 14 songs written by 11 active-duty service members with post-traumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury, and psychological health conditions, who received music therapy services at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a Directorate of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The songs offer a window into service members’ lived experiences of military service, injury, recovery, homecoming, and transition from active-duty. Songwriting enabled service members to share their thoughts, emotions, fears and hopes with family, friends and other providers, often for the first time, and as such played an important role in their personal growth and recovery process. This is the first study to examine the therapeutic benefits of songwriting in a military population. (2018)

  • Music therapy treatment of active duty military: An overview of intensive outpatient and longitudinal care programs
    In recent years, there has been increased demand for music therapy services within military treatment facilities to treat combat-related injuries. This demand is partly due to increased research output related to music interventions in neuro-rehabilitation as well as an increased prevalence of signature injuries including traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder for which interdisciplinary patient-centered care is recommended. The complexity of traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress, and military service itself presents challenges for music therapists when creating patient-centered program models. As military healthcare increases access to new treatments as a standard of care, it is important for music therapists to provide descriptions of effective treatment models in military settings. Outlining established music therapy models of care is essential to the successful addition of music therapy in the treatment of service members’ complex injuries. This paper outlines current program models at two facilities, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Intrepid Spirit Center at Fort Belvoir. (2018)

  • Music therapy applied to complex blast injury in an interdisciplinary model: A case report
    Music therapy has a long history of treating the physiological, psychological, and neurological injuries of war. Recently, there has been an increase in the use of music therapy and other creative arts therapies in the care of combat injured service members returning to the United States from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially those with complex blast-related injuries. This case report describes the role of music therapy in the interdisciplinary rehabilitation of a severely injured service member. (2018)