Low-Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-Based Music Group (CBT-Music) for the Treatment of Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: A Feasibility Study

Behav Cogn Psychother. 2018 Mar;46(2):168-181. doi: 10.1017/S1352465817000480. Epub 2017 Oct 9.


Background: Music has the potential to be an effective and engaging therapeutic intervention in the treatment of mental illness. This research area remains underdeveloped.

Aims: This paper reports the feasibility of an innovative low-intensity CBT-based music (CBT-Music) group targeted to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Method: A total of 28 participants with symptoms of depression and anxiety who were attending community mental health services were recruited for the study and randomized into TAU (treatment as usual) plus low-intensity CBT-Music (treatment) or to TAU alone (control). The treatment group consisted of a 9-week music group that incorporated various components of CBT material into a musical context. Feasibility was the primary outcome. The secondary outcomes were a reduction in depression, anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and disability (WHO Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0) assessed at baseline and 10 weeks.

Results: Recruitment proved feasible, retention rates were high, and the participants reported a high level of acceptability. A randomized control study design was successfully implemented as there were no significant differences between treatment and control groups at baseline. Participants in the treatment group showed improvement in disability (p = 0.027). Despite a reduction in depression and anxiety scores, these differences were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: A low-intensity CBT-based music group can be successfully administered to clients of community mental health services. There are indications of effectiveness in reducing disability, although there appears to be negligible effect on symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is the first report of a trial of a low-intensity CBT-based music group intervention.

Keywords: CBT; anxiety/anxiety disorders; depression; empirical supported treatment; health services; music.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Music / psychology*
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities / psychology*
  • Persons with Mental Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Psychotherapy, Group*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome