Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Sarah Hamil, Ph.D., LCSW, RPT-S, ATR-BC


Research indicates that music positively affects the brain, health, and wellness and continues to be researched for its effectiveness in treating PTSD. Traumatic memories are stored in the brain structures of the limbic system. Music has been shown to affect these brain structures, giving prospect to its use through music psychotherapy interventions as an effective treatment for PTSD. This review of music therapy literature assesses the effects of music on the brain, identifies current models for treating PTSD with music therapy, and considers culturally informed approaches to treatment. A widely known gap in the research of evidenced-based studies of music therapy’s effectiveness in this treatment is identified along with a lack of standardized techniques for the use of music psychotherapy in treating PTSD. This thesis presents a neuro-informed approach to music therapy for treating PTSD in diverse urban communities. These approaches are informed by the PTSD symptom clusters and specific brain regions affected by music therapy interventions. Music therapy is discussed as a necessary element in the treatment of PTSD, giving voice to the voiceless experiences of trauma and serving as a creative means of processing traumatic events in therapy.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.




The author owns the copyright to this work.