Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies

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Project title: A Qualitative Study of Psychotic Patients’ Experiences with Music Therapy

Project period: July 1, 2009 - July/Aug 2013

Supervisor: Randi Rolvsjord


The project:

This PhD-project will be conducted as a collaboration of Unifob helse (Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre - GAMUT), the University of Bergen (Faculty of Humanities, The Grieg Academy – Department of Music), and Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital. The project is financed with the aid of EXTRA funds from the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation, through the The Norwegian Council for Mental Health.

Music therapy is a relatively new treatment approach in mental health care in Norway, but the body of knowledge is constantly growing, and the present results are very promising. Both a Cochrane-review of music therapy for patients with psychotic disorders (Gold, Heldal, Dahle & Wigram 2005), and a meta-analysis of studies of music therapy for patients with serious mental disorders (Gold, Solli, Krüger & Lie 2009), show that music therapy, when added to standard care, has a strong and significant effect on global state, general symptoms, negative symptoms, depression, anxiety and functioning. These positive results demand a further investigation into therapeutic factors and recovery processes, to gain knowledge about what essential elements to be delivered in music therapy for patients with psychosis. This PhD-project will be an explorative study that will focus on the user-perspective of psychotic patients receiving music therapy. The collection of data will be carried out through qualitative semi-structured interviews, participatory observation, and audio recordings of musical interaction. Data will be analyzed thematically and illuminated by relevant theory. The primary object will be to examine the patients’ subjective experiences with music therapy, and from this, to derive hypothesis about therapeutic factors and the recovery process in music therapy for patients with psychosis. This is an area of research that previously has had limited focus, and it is of great importance to investigate this gap of knowledge to be able to develop and secure the quality of music therapy for this group of patients.

The primary objectives of the study are:

1) to gain more knowledge about how patients with psychosis experience music therapy.

2) to better understand how participation in music therapy can promote or obstruct the recovery process of  patients with psychosis.

Secondary objectives of the study are:

1) to investigate how different aspects of music therapy are experienced by the patients.

2) to investigate how the patients’ subjective experiences correlate with observations of the musical interplay.

3) to construct hypothesis about therapeutic factors in music therapy for patients with psychosis, and formulate which implications this should have for music therapy for this population.


Hans Petter Solli has worked as a music therapist at the general psychiatric unit at Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital for over eight years. He has also worked as an assistent professor in Music Therapy at the Grieg Academy of Music, University of Bergen, for two years. He is now a PhD-student at the University of Bergen, but situated in Oslo. Solli frequently presents his work at conferences, lectures at universities and institutions, and has previously published texts on music therapy in mental health care. He is also a musician and has played with a variety of Norwegian bands.