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The Stress Management Program that Reduces Chronic Neck Pain, Intensity & Disability

13 Apr

In a pilot study, researchers from Copenhagen University, Denmark, and The Grieg Academy of Music Therapy Research Center in Bergen, Norway,  examined the effects of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), a specific technique, created by Helen Bonny, that includes relaxation, music listening, and observing the resulting, spontaneous imagery that arises from the music, on bio-psycho-social measures of stress related to long term sick leave...

Twenty Danish workers on sick leave were randomized to either a music therapy intervention or wait-list control.  Data collection was carried out at an occupational health ward in the period 2008-2010.

The study measured changes in salivary cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin, and self-reported data were collected on psychological stress symptoms (perceived stress, mood disturbance, sleep quality, physical distress symptoms, work readiness, well-being, anxiety, depression, immediate stress).

Results showed significant beneficial effects with GIM after nine weeks in the intervention group, as compared to the wait-list control condition, with large effect sizes found in well-being, mood disturbance, and physical distress; and medium effect size in cortisol concentrations.

Other comparisons of the timing of when the GIM was introduced suggested the earlier the better; there was faster job return and significantly improved perceived stress, well-being, mood disturbance, depression, anxiety, and physical distress symptoms, with early intervention.

In the whole sample, 83% of the participants had returned to work at nine weeks' follow-up. Although this was a small sample and therefore more prone to statistical distortion, these results indicate that GIM is a promising treatment for work-related chronic stress, and further studies are recommended.

Citation: Beck BD, Hansen ÅM, Gold C. Coping with Work-Related Stress through Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Music Therapy. 2015 Fall;52 (3): pp.323-52. doi: 10.1093/jmt/thv011. Epub 2015 Sep 30.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award