Effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology: a meta-analysis


Christian Gold, Faculty of Health Studies, Sogn og Fjordane University College, 6823 Sandane, Norway; E-mail: christian.gold@hisf.no


Background:  The objectives of this review were to examine the overall efficacy of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology, and to examine how the size of the effect of music therapy is influenced by the type of pathology, client's age, music therapy approach, and type of outcome.

Method:  Eleven studies were included for analysis, which resulted in a total of 188 subjects for the meta-analysis. Effect sizes from these studies were combined, with weighting for sample size, and their distribution was examined.

Results:  After exclusion of an extreme positive outlying value, the analysis revealed that music therapy has a medium to large positive effect (ES = .61) on clinically relevant outcomes that was statistically highly significant (p < .001) and statistically homogeneous. No evidence of a publication bias was identified. Effects tended to be greater for behavioural and developmental disorders than for emotional disorders; greater for eclectic, psychodynamic, and humanistic approaches than for behavioural models; and greater for behavioural and developmental outcomes than for social skills and self-concept.

Conclusions:  Implications for clinical practice and research are discussed.