A group music and imagery (GrpMI) intervention was found to be effective at treating women with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex posttraumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). These findings were published in the European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation.

Women (N=45) who were referred for PTSD/CPTSD treatment at a private clinic in Sweden in 2016 to 2018 were recruited for this study. Participants were evaluated by questionnaire about psychiatric symptoms and functioning. Patients were matched based on age and severity of symptoms and randomized to receive wait list (n=23) or the GrpMI intervention (n=22). The primary outcome was the change in PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (PCL-5) score.

The intervention comprised 12 weekly 2-and-a-half-hour group sessions with 5 to 7 participants which used the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music method. During each session, a therapist would guide participants with dialogues during a 30–45-minute classical music program. The guided imagery focused on self-exploration and working through inner conflicts and trauma.


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The intervention and control cohorts were aged mean 45.2 (SD, 10.7) and 42.2 (SD, 9.10) years, 77.3% and 87.0% experienced both adult and childhood trauma, 50.0% and 52.2% were on sick-leave from work, 59.1% and 47.8% were married, and 86.4% and 73.9% had children, respectively.

Compared with controls, the GrpMI intervention associated with significant changes to the PCL-5 (F[1,42], 8.68; P ≤.01), Hopkins Symptom Check List-25 (HSCL-25; F[1,42], 7.94; P ≤.01), HSCL-5 Anxiety Subscale (F[1,42], 7.94; P ≤.01), PCL-5 Dysregulated Self Organization (F[1,42], 5.37; P ≤.05), HSCL-25 Depressive Subscale (F[1,42], 4.45; P ≤.05), Dissociative Experience Scale (DES; F[1,42], 5.59; P ≤.05), and Positive States of Mind Scale (PSOMS; F[1,42], 5.17; P ≤.05).

More patients who received the GrpMI intervention had a diagnostic change (38.1% vs 4.3%; χ2, 9.50; P =.023) and a 10 or greater point change in the Rate of Clinical Improvement (57.1% vs 17.4%; P =.007).

This study may have been limited by choosing a nonactive control condition.

The study authors concluded, “The result of the present study suggests that the phased trauma-focused modification of the GrpMI method may be a promising treatment modality for PTSD and CPTSD. Additional studies are warranted to confirm the efficacy of the method and to investigate the specific mechanisms relevant to the treatment effect.”

Reference

Rudstam G, Elofsson UOE, Söndergaard HP, Bonde LO, Beck BD. Trauma-focused group music and imagery with women suffering from PTSD/Complex PTSD: A randomized controlled study. EJTD. 2022;6(3):100277. doi:10.1016/j.ejtd.2022.100277