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Music Therapy Reduces Depression in Children, Study Finds

Music Therapy Reduces Depression in Children, Study Finds

A recent study in the UK claims that students who participate in music therapy may find themselves less depressed than those who don't.

The study, conducted by Queen's University Belfast, finds that "the social skills and self esteem of young people suffering emotional, behavioural and developmental problems was dramatically improved when their medical treatment was enhanced by music therapy," said an article on

"For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works," said Ciara Reilly, chief executive of the Music Therapy Trust, in the article. "Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects...the findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option."

Music therapy, the article said, "is a practical intervention which involves children writing songs or composing music to express their feelings. Guitars and keyboards were the often the most popular choice of instruments for participants."

"It is a non-verbal intervention," said Karen Diamond, also from the Music Therapy Trust. "The children do not have to say anything. Instead the therapist may ask the child to play a tune to describe their week or how they feel. And, for a seven or eight-year-old with a mental health problem words can be difficult at the best of times."

In the study, researchers "monitored 251 young children between the ages of eight and 16 between March 2011 and May 2014. The participants, the article said, "were divided into two groups with 128 being given the usual care options, while 123 were assigned additional music therapy."

The article said early findings suggest "that the benefits sustained as a result of music therapy are long term."

"This is the largest study ever to be carried out looking at music therapy's ability to help this very vulnerable group," said Dr Valerie Holmes from the Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and co-researcher. "What we found was that while music therapy improves communication and interaction skills for all children there is significant evidence that it benefits those aged 13 and older. At the minute, music therapy is not a mainstream clinical option, This study gives us evidence and we hope that the results will help ensure that music therapy may become a mainstream option for children and young people with mental health difficulties."

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor


*Note: All spellings were kept in accordance with the UK publication. 

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