The Opposite of Treatment: Music Therapy

The title of the paper describes the article accurately, stating the research question, the study type (qualitative), and the target group. The authors have chosen to include the term “the opposite of treatment,” which is not a formal expression and requires familiarity with the “findings” section to be fully understood. The abstract is concise and representative of the article, highlighting all the necessary information regarding the research, including the reasons for the inquiry, the introduction to the methods, findings, and suggestions for further improvement based on the research results.

The introduction contains an in-depth description and explanation of the problem. According to the authors, the effectiveness of the music therapy treatment is already established and confirmed by a vast bulk of quantitative studies. At the same time, the research of the patients’ perception of the practice is scarce, and the availability of personal testimonies on the matter is usually irrelevant either to psychosis or to the field of mental illnesses altogether.

The problem is practically important for two reasons. First, the previous studies focused mainly on the specific outcome measures, such as the symptoms reduction level, to be able to conclusively determine and evaluate the effectiveness of the practice (Gold et al., 2013). At the same time, the music therapy is intuitively different from clinical methods from the patient’s viewpoint, which, coupled with the positive perception of the procedure, will yield additional benefits to the patients’ well-being (Wigram, Saperston, & West, 2013).

Second, the current state of the medical treatment of psychosis still leaves space for alternative and assisting practices to reach a better outcome. The insight into the nature of the patients’ experience with music therapy will increase our understanding of the issue and possibly provide improvements to the currently established procedures. While the hypothesis is not stated, the study has a clearly defined research question: what it is like for inpatients with psychosis to participate in music therapy; and how participants with psychosis experience music therapy in relation to their mental health and current life challenges (Solli & Rolvsjord, 2015).

However, the study does not incorporate a defined theoretical framework. Given the qualitative nature of the study, the small sample size, and, most importantly, the limitations resulting from the mental state of the respondents, the presence of the framework is not critical. The paper also does not have a separate literature review section. However, the introduction has a formidable review of the parts relevant studies. All of the sources are only marginally pertinent to the study, as the topic itself is narrow enough to exclude the majority of the sources as directly relevant. The majority of sources are recent. There is no apparent evidence of bias.

The study was conducted in the form of a series of interviews of nine participants. The noticeably small sample size is acceptable for a pilot study and is suitable for the research design. No harm was done to the respondents in the course of the study. The interviews were approved by the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics. The data was collected and processed with the assistance of the Atlas. Ti software tool. The reliability and validity were accounted for by using recording hardware. The transcripts were analyzed and appropriately coded, with codes grouped in clusters, in accordance with the interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009).

The findings are presented in an approachable and clear manner, using tables and textual descriptions. The formation of the resulting main themes is clearly explained. The findings suggest the dominance of four super-ordinate themes in patients’ experience: freedom, contact, well-being, and symptom relief (Solli & Rolvsjord, 2015). Additionally, the researchers confirmed the overall improvement in mood, well-being, and motivation of patients.

The results fully cover the research question and are obviously relevant to nursing practices. First, the study suggests additional benefits from music therapy practices for everyday performance among subjects. Another important finding was the perception of music as a non-clinical practice by some patients. Instead, they perceived it as an illness-free space that was free of pressure and stigmatization.

The study has several limitations. First, the sample was noticeably small, which is acceptable for the pilot study but still impacts the validity. Second, the sample was purposefully selected. Third, the number and duration of interviews were uneven. The latter two are explained with the unpredictable mental condition but introduce the possibility of bias. As the study was neither randomized nor controlled, the level of evidence is IIB (Shekelle, Woolf, Eccles, & Grimshaw, 1999).

The paper does not have direct recommendations for nursing practice, but the positive effects of music therapy on patient’s well-being and, more importantly, the perception of music as “the opposite of treatment” can definitely be used in nursing to improve emotional and psychological climate (Callaghan & Gamble, 2015). However, additional research is needed to determine the presence of the same effects in the areas outside the patients diagnosed with psychosis. Nevertheless, taking into consideration the availability and simplicity of the music therapy practices, the results, and recommendations of the study can be used in my nursing practice (outside the psychosis setting) at least to a limited degree.


Callaghan, P., & Gamble, C. (2015). Oxford handbook of mental health nursing. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Gold, C., Mossler, K., Grocke, D., Heldal, T. O., Tjemsland, L., Aarre, T.,… & Rolvsjord, R. (2013). Individual music therapy for mental health care clients with low therapy motivation: multicentre randomised controlled trial. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 82(5), 319-331.

Shekelle, P. G., Woolf, S. H., Eccles, M., & Grimshaw, J. (1999). Clinical guidelines: developing guidelines. British Medical Journal, 318(7183), 593-596.

Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. London: Sage.

Solli, H. P., & Rolvsjord, R. (2015). “The Opposite of Treatment”: A qualitative study of how patients diagnosed with psychosis experience music therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 24(1), 67-92.

Wigram, T., Saperston, B., & West, R. (2013). Art & science of music therapy: A handbook. New York, NY: Routledge.