Music therapy can reduce depression in young people with behaviour problems, new research finds.
Music therapy also increased self-esteem compared to those who received the usual treatment without the therapy.
The conclusions come from the largest every study of its kind.
It involved 251 children, only half of whom were given music therapy.
The music therapy itself included things like the therapist asking children to describe how they felt by playing a tune.
All the children in the study were being treated for behavioural, emotional or developmental problems.
The results showed that those who received the music therapy had higher self-esteem and reduced depression in comparison to those that had care as usual.
Professor Sam Porter, who led the study, said:
“This study is hugely significant in terms of determining effective treatments for children and young people with behavioural problems and mental health needs.
The findings contained in our report should be considered by healthcare providers and commissioners when making decisions about the sort of care for young people that they wish to support.”
Ciara Reilly, Chief Executive of Every Day Harmony, a music therapy charity, said:
“Music therapy has often been used with children and young people with particular mental health needs, but this is the first time its effectiveness has been shown by a definitive randomised controlled trail in a clinical setting.
The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option.
For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works.
Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects.”
The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, (Porter et al., 2016).