Music therapy for emotion regulation skills and better psychological well-being for cancer patients: Making of a therapeutic programme

Jana Duhovska (Coresponding Author), Inga Millere

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Objective of this research is to explore the subjective experience and perceived benefits of 60 cancer patients participating in the music therapy based and Expressive Therapies Continuum and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy informed psychosocial support programme. The data was obtained by means of questionnaire and focus group discussions. All participants (n = 60) performed written evaluation of the programme: a) of their overall experience, b) its specific benefits for addressing pain, anxiety as well as social support, emotion regulation and overall quality of life issues, c) its most/least enjoyable/helpful elements. Participants (n = 20) of the four focus group discussions, on their turn, explored the specific elements (contents, organisation, instructions, timetable) of the programme to provide the grounds for future amendments. Results reveal that 70% of participants rated their overall experience as “very valuable” or “valuable”, 24% indicated as “neutral”, whereas 6% admitted that their participation has not led to “substantial gains”. The top five benefits included: improved mood, reduced stress, received support, improved communication, coping with negative emotions linked with disease or treatment. Among the most enjoyable and helpful elements, participants emphasized the ones that were linked with the acquired ability to face and survive difficult emotions (n = 43), discovering inner strength (n = 58), gaining more confidence by acquiring new skills or experience (n = 29), gaining connectedness with group and music (n = 32), musically beautiful moments and transcendence (n = 58) as well as normalization of their experience (n = 50). Focus group discussion provided with valuable recommendations regarding the inclusion of psycho-education elements, size of the group, format of task instructions, pace of the work and necessity for balance between the safety and novelty. It can be concluded that participation in the programme positively affected psychological and social well-being of the cancer patients. Results of this research provide valuable input for the further development of the programme – both organisation and content-wise.


  • Music therapy
  • psychology care
  • cancer patients

Field of Science*

  • 5.1 Psychology

Publication Type*

  • 1.3. Anonymously reviewed scientific article published in a journal with an international editorial board and is available in another indexed database


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