Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn F. Cruz

Second Advisor

Michele Forinash

Third Advisor

Alan Turry


Anxiety can be a minor and brief experience for some; for others it can be a life long debilitating struggle. In the United States, many people are not treated for anxiety but experience it on a daily basis. Current theory suggests that anxiety is an emotional and affective response to perceived danger that can lead to isolative, erratic, and avoidant behaviors. Anxiety is also recognized as a unique individual set of experiences that are difficult to explain and treat. This study explored individual responses to music therapy clinical improvisation and anxiety symptoms. The researcher determined if co-created improvised music between therapist and client was effective in the treatment of anxiety. Repeated measures involving 16 participants were conducted. The age range of the participants was 20 to 35 years old, and the demographics of the participants were 56% female, 44% male, 50% Caucasian, 6% East Indian, 6% Latin American, 13% African American, 6% West Indian, and 19% Asian. The study used a multiple single subject design (SSD). Data were collected with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). Data were collected weekly for 12 consecutive weeks in one - hour weekly music therapy sessions. Clinical improvisation techniques included instrumental and vocal methodologies. Data were analyzed and presented through visual representation and in aggregate form to supplement to the SSD analysis. The BAI items with the highest baseline frequencies were unable to relax, nervous, heart pounding, terrified or afraid, and fear of the worst happening, indicating that the BAI was useful for identifying anxiety symptoms for generalized anxiety, social phobia, and panic related anxiety. The results confirmed that after clinical instrumental and vocal improvisation, participants’ anxiety symptoms significantly decreased by Week 6 of treatment. Results also revealed significant stability of decreased symptoms from initial baseline to end of treatment. The 12 weeks of music psychotherapy treatment significantly decreased anxiety with maintenance of symptom improvement. The clinical model that developed from this study is discussed and suggestions and recommendations for further research are offered.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



Number of Pages





The author owns the copyright to this work.