How can Music therapy impact anxiety and relaxation?

Comparing Three Music Therapy Interventions for Anxiety and Relaxation 

in Youth with Amplified Pain

In studying the impact of music therapy on pediatric chronic pain, researchers from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City compared the effects of three music interventions on anxiety and relaxation levels of youth with amplified pain syndromes. In a summary of related research, authors highlighted that chronic pain affects up to a third of adolescents and can have significant effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. Scheufler et al. (2020) implemented three music interventions once per week for 3 weeks with 48 youth aged 10 to 18 years enrolled in a full time, hospital-based pain treatment program. The first intervention, music-assisted relaxation, involved the use of live music paired with guided imagery. Imagery content was individualized with patient responses and music elements were specifically selected by the music therapist to promote relaxation. The second intervention, live patient selected music, involved listening, moving, and/or singing along to patient preferred music, as well as a discussion or analysis of song lyrics. The third intervention, active music engagement, involved chant writing, improvisational instrument play, and verbal discussion about the music making progress. Self-rating scales for perception of current feelings of anxiety and relaxation were administered prior to and after each approximate 60 minute session. Comparison of pre and post-test outcomes revealed significant increases in perceived relaxation across all three interventions. Study results further indicated significant decreases in physical symptoms of anxiety with the live patient selected music intervention and significant decreases in cognitive symptoms of anxiety with the active music engagement intervention.


Scheufler, A., Wallace, D. P., & Fox, E. (2020). Comparing three music therapy interventions for anxiety and relaxation in youth with amplified pain. Journal of Music Therapy, thaa021, 1-24. doi:10.1093/jmt/thaa021