MT for Individuals with OCD

Recently, Bidabadi et al. (2015) conducted a randomized clinical trial to compare the results of standard treatment (pharmacotherapy/cognitive-behavioral therapy) against standard treatment with the addition of twelve sessions of receptive music therapy over a month-long period.

The thirty randomly selected participants with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) diagnosis were given a battery of tests before the trial began.  This included the Maudsley Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form.  The base results of both groups were reported as comparable.

After a month of treatment the tests were administered a second time.  The group that received music therapy in conjunction with standard therapy yielded a greater decrease in total obsessive behavior compared to that of standard treatment.  In terms of typical co-morbid diagnosis of depression and anxiety, the music therapy group again reported a decrease in both and anxiety and depression compared to standard treatment.  It should be noted that music therapy did not have the same effects on subtypes of OCD.  In this study, music therapy showed better results with checking and slowness, but not with washing or responsibility.

These results show promise for the effectiveness of music therapy with this population, but a few things need to be addressed.  These trials were conducted in Isfahan, Iran, where there is no governing body for the professional development of music therapy.  This fact is acknowledged in the article, but it is interesting to note that the methods used are conducted by an experienced psychiatrist and an “experienced musician, specialized in composition and production of Iranian classical music”.

The article also includes the protocols of the musical intervention, which include a program of Iranian classical music along with guided reflection, meditation, and imagery concerning the participants’ obsessions.

Despite the fact that no music therapist is present, Bidabadi cites many music therapists in his source list, and describes techniques similar to those used in the United States.  It would therefore be beneficial for music therapists to inquire more into the specifics of the interventions he used, given the apparent benefit to the patients.

Bidabadi, S., & Mehryar, A. (2015). Music therapy as an adjunct to standard treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Co-Morbid Anxiety and Depression: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 184, 13-17. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.

About the Blog Post Author:

John Head grew up in Houston Texas and attended school at Texas State University from 2006-2009 where he studied jazz with Butch Miles of Count Basie fame. Eventually John entered into the armed forces and played in the Navy music program from 2009-2014.  During this time John was stationed in the Seattle area playing in concert band, rock band, new orleans brass band, and big band jazz performing units throughout the Pacific Northwest.  It was during this time John became interested in music therapy.  John is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy at Colorado State University.