Grieg Research School in Interdisciplinary Music Studies

Patients with severe mental illness are motivated by music therapy

Tuesday November 25th Hans Petter Solli defends the PhD degree at the University of Bergen with the thesis: "The groove of recovery: A qualitative study of how people diagnosed with psychosis experience music therapy".

Hans Petter Solli
Hans Petter Solli
Hugo Lande

Main content

The groove of recovery:

A qualitative study of how people diagnosed with psychosis experience music therapy


Based on his own clinical practice as a music therapist at a closed psychiatric ward at Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo, Solli has interviewed inpatients diagnosed with psychosis about their experiences with music therapy.


The aims were to investigate how musical participation was experienced by patients diagnosed with psychosis, and gain knowledge of how this can support their recovery process. The thesis shows that music therapy affords a therapeutic and social arena where people with severe mental illness experience themselves as active agents in their own lives. Participants say that music therapy provides experiences of motivation, mastery, joy, vitality and hope, experiences referred to as rather rare during hospitalization and also in life in general.


Participants talk about freedom when they describe how they felt about participation in music therapy: freedom from illness, stigma and psychiatric treatment. Music therapy is hence helping to build a more positive sense of self and positive identity. Further, participants told about reduction and even absence of symptoms and distressing thoughts during active musical interaction. The findings support and elaborate results from previous effect studies showing that music therapy has good effects for this group of patients.


The thesis is a PhD by publication. The first article is a literature review presenting a meta-synthesis of previous research on user perspectives in music therapy with people with severe mental illness. The second article presents a qualitative study of how the nine participants diagnosed with psychosis experienced music therapy on closed intensive care unit. The third article is a single case study of how one participant experienced music therapy, focusing on how music therapy served as a bridge between the institution and other social arenas in the patient's life.


Solli say the thesis shows that music therapy can be understood as a recovery-oriented practice, and that music therapy should be offered as an integral part of treatment and follow-up of patients diagnosed with psychosis.


Hans Petter Solli is a trained music therapist, MA, from the The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, and has since 2001 been working as a music therapist at the Psychiatric Department at Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo. He has been an Assistant Professor in Music Therapy at The Grieg Academy - Department of Music, University of Bergen, at the Norwegian Academy of Music. This project has been financially supported by the Norwegian ExtraFoundation for Health and Rehabilitation through EXTRA funds, and is associated with the Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre (GAMUT), UiB / UNI Health and Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital.


Viva Voce

Time: Tuesday 25th of November at 09.00

Location: Gunnar Sævigs sal, Grieg Academy - Department of Music, Lars Hillesgt. 3, Bergen.



First opponent: Dr. Gary Ansdell, Nordoff Robins, London

Second opponent: Dr. Reidun Norvoll, University of Oslo

Head of the committee: Prof. Brynjulf Stige, University of Bergen


Trial lecture

Title: Given the potential tensions between the recovery model and medical model psychiatry: is music therapy in medical settings for acute mental health care a marriage made in heaven, or hell?

Time: Monday 24th of November at 16.30

Location: Gunnar Sævigs sal, Grieg Academy - Department of Music, Lars Hillesgt. 3, Bergen.




Hans Petter Solli, phone: +47 92299235, email: hps@lds.no / hpsolli@gmail.com