Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Post-traumatic stress disorder-Treatment, Music therapy, Exposure therapy, Veterans-Mental health services, Self-acceptance, Commitment (Psychology), PTSD, Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), Mindfulness, Music


Substantial efforts have been made to provide evidence based therapeutic treatment for combat veterans seeking mental health services for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Due to the clinical complexity of PTSD, discovering a muti-effect approach treating both the diagnostically significant PTS symptoms as well as the non-diagnostic associated features of PTSD would be beneficial. This independent investigation was developed to explore the relationship of music to the current evidence-based treatment practices for PTSD. The researcher explored the relationship between the physiological, psychological and social effects of both music and PTSD, the mechanisms of change intrinsic to PTSD therapy, and the clinical applications of music as an adjunct to in vivo exposure therapy, Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness. The uniquely holistic biopsychosocial processes engaged by music and the associated theoretical underpinnings informed the author's approach. During the experience of working musically with trauma survivors, the author developed specific experiential and behavioral exercises to compliment the therapeutic elements of ACT, mindfulness and in vivo exposure therapy. The utilized approach included individual guitar lessons and group listening exercises designed to work musically with clients' anxieties in vivo, foster mindfulness skills with the goal to become re-engaged in life by practicing noticing when thoughts become a distraction from fully participating in the present moment, and to provide a valued activity that can act as a bridge from the psychological principles of ACT to the ultimate goal of behavioral activation




iii, 142 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 106-133)