New intervention helps teens deal with their emotions through music

September 19, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Using music to engage with and educate young people about their emotions, and how to tolerate and regulate their strong emotional states, is the focus of a new intervention developed by University of Queensland clinical psychologist Dr Genevieve Dingle.

As a former manager of a hospital drug and alcohol program that included group therapy five days a week, Dr Dingle from UQ's School of Psychology found it often difficult to engage the younger substance-users into the group.

"They would sit outside the group, playing with their phones and listening to music on their MP3s. So I thought we should try music as a way to engage them into the group discussion," Dr Dingle said.

After making contact with Associate Professor Felicity Baker and Libby Gleadhill from UQ's School of Music, Dr Dingle trialled an afternoon of music therapy once a week and found that the youths responded well to sharing their music, performing rap, drumming, and other musical activities.

Since returning to academia, Dr Dingle has explored the links between music and emotion in more depth in laboratory studies, survey studies and a choir study.

"Music psychology, and the field of music and emotions in particular, is a rapidly expanding area of research internationally and it's a very exciting time," Dr Dingle said.

Research shows that (aged 15–25 years) experience intense emotional highs and lows, yet their capacity for emotion regulation is not fully developed until adulthood. This is a peak age group for onset of and suicide.

"The best practice for emotional problems in young people is – however it has been criticised for not addressing skills enough," Dr Dingle said.

"I have developed an intervention called Tuned In, which uses a two dimensional model of emotion and three types of emotional enhancing activities during music listening as a way of exploring and managing emotions," she said.

Tuned In is based on simple concepts that are easy to teach, given music listening is something that most young people have access to.

Dr Dingle said she would like to see Tuned In available to young Australians through secondary schools as a preventive measure.

"Hopefully this would give young people some strategies for understanding and regulating their emotional states before associated problems like substance abuse, self harm, or suicidal thoughts occur," she said.

Together with doctoral student Carly Fay, the program has been trialled with 60 university students and has shown that participants improved their emotional clarity and strategies for managing emotions compared to students in the wait-list control condition. Tuned In was rated as highly effective and engaging, and there was a 98 per cent attendance rate across the trial.

Dr Dingle plans to conduct a clinical trial of Tuned In and is discussing possibilities with various clinical services at present. It has also been modified for sportspeople and there are plans to test it with a clinical group of young people as well.

Dr Dingle is also working on aspects of emotional regulation with Associate Professor Julie Henry in the School of Psychology, and they plan to use experimental and brain-imaging methodologies to discover more about , and the use of to evoke and regulate emotional states.

Explore further: Heavy metal music has negative impacts on youth

Related Stories

Heavy metal music has negative impacts on youth

October 20, 2011
Young people at risk of depression are more likely to listen habitually and repetitively to heavy metal music. University of Melbourne researcher Dr Katrina McFerran has found.

Research finds music festivals create good vibes

May 4, 2011
Attending music festivals could have a positive impact on the psychological and social well-being of young adults, according to University of Queensland researchers.

Recommended for you

Should I stay or should I leave? Untangling what goes on when a relationship is being questioned

August 17, 2017
Knowing whether to stay in or leave a romantic relationship is often an agonizing experience and that ambivalence can have negative consequences for health and well-being.

Kids learn moral lessons more effectively from stories with humans than human-like animals

August 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto found that four to six-year-olds shared more after listening to books with human characters than books with anthropomorphic ...

History of stress increases miscarriage risk, says new review

August 17, 2017
A history of exposure to psychological stress can increase the risk of miscarriage by upto 42 per cent, according to a new review.

Study finds children pay close attention to potentially threatening information, avoid eye contact when anxious

August 17, 2017
We spend a lot of time looking at the eyes of others for social cues – it helps us understand a person's emotions, and make decisions about how to respond to them. We also know that adults avoid eye contact when anxious. ...

Communicating in a foreign language takes emotion out of decision making

August 16, 2017
If you could save the lives of five people by pushing another bystander in front of a train to his death, would you do it? And should it make any difference if that choice is presented in a language you speak, but isn't your ...

Precision medicine opens the door to scientific wellness preventive approaches to suicide

August 15, 2017
Researchers have developed a more precise way of diagnosing suicide risk, by developing blood tests that work in everybody, as well as more personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality that they have newly ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.