Abstract

Background:

Social support is associated with enhanced illness management and recovery in persons with mental illness, making it an important topic addressed through acute inpatient psychoeducational programs. In addition, trust in the therapist may mediate clinical outcomes in this patient population. To date, few studies have examined the effect of music-based psychoeducational programs on these variables.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to isolate and examine the component parts of a live educational music therapy intervention, and its effect on acute psychiatric inpatients’ perceived social support from significant others, family, and friends and trust in the therapist. This study also explored whether trust in therapist varied across conditions, but did not examine it as a mediator for social support.

Method:

Participants (N = 96) were cluster-randomized in a single-session posttest-only design to one of four conditions: live educational music therapy, recorded educational music therapy, education without music, or recreational music therapy without education. Conditions were designed to isolate the following intervention components: live vs. recorded music, educational vs. noneducational content, and music vs. nonmusic modality. Dependent measures were assessed post intervention via established self-report instruments evaluating perceived social support and trust in the therapist.

Results:

There were no significant between-group differences for social support or trust in therapist total scores. However, subscale score analyses revealed two significant between-group differences: (a) participants in the Live Educational Music Therapy condition reported significantly higher perceived therapist competence compared with the Recorded Educational Music Therapy condition; (b) participants in the Live Educational Music Therapy condition reported significantly higher perceived support from friends compared with the Recreational Music Therapy condition.

Conclusions:

Live educational music therapy may be a way to heighten psychiatric inpatients’ perceived social support concerning friends and perceptions of the therapist’s competence. The current results demonstrated differences between live and recorded music therapy in psychiatric music therapy and provide empirical support for competent musicianship. Implications for clinical practice, limitations, and suggestions for future research are included.

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