Music Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Essay

Music Therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Essay

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“A Person cannot be diagnosed with PTSD without having experienced a traumatic event.” (Hunt and McHale, 2010, p.13). The purpose of this essay is to discuss how Music Therapy can be used to help veterans suffering from PTSD to cope with their traumatic experiences and manage their symptoms.

I will define PTSD, then in further detail explore and explain how music therapy can be used to treat and manage the symptoms of PTSD. Finally, I will evaluate if Music Therapy is a suitable intervention for helping veterans treat the symptoms of PTSD.

This essay will explore the perspectives of music therapists including Julie Sutton and Gary Ansdell and research of Psychologists Paul Gilbert, Nigel Hunt and Sue Mchale.


Psychologists Hunt and McHale (2010, p.20) state that according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):

In order for someone to be classified as having PTSD, there must be:
1) a traumatic event
2) intrusive re-experiencing
3) avoidance and general numbing
4) hyper arousal
5) problems stemming from these symptoms at work and home
6) a minimum duration of one month

This definition is helpful in providing a music therapist with a clear classification system to decide whether a veteran being referred to them, is displaying symptoms related to PTSD.


According to Whealin, De Carvhalo and Vega (2008, pp.22-25):

When we have survived extremely stressful or dangerous situations, the amygdala can start to be overactive. That is why when veterans return from war, they often feel alarmed even when they are not in danger. There are a number of skills you can ...

... middle of paper ...

...a Kingsley Publishers, pp.13-75.

Bunt, L. and Hoskyns, S. (2002) The Handbook of Music Therapy. London: Routledge, pp.190-195.

Bunt, L. (1994) Music Therapy: An Art Beyond Words. London: Routledge, pp.171-175.

Bright, G. (1997) Wholeness in Later Life. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp.119-123.

Gilbert, P. (2010) Compassion Focused Therapy. London: Routledge, pp.135-145.

Hunt, N.C. and McHale, S. (2010) Understanding Post Traumatic Stress. London: Sheldon Press, pp. 13-25.

Jones, E. and Wessely, S. (2005) Shell Shock to PTSD. Hove: Psychology Press, pp.215-220.

Sutton, J.P (2002) Music, Music Therapy and Trauma: International Perspectives. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp.231-257.

Whealin, J.M., Decarvahlo, L.T. and Edward, M.V. (2008) Clinician’s Guide to Treating Stress After War. New-Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, pp.20-30.

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