The use of music therapy as a means of identity formation in the treatment of eating disorders

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Cummins, Sarah
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Eating disorders are ranked as one of the top ten mental health issues in the world. Statistics released by the American Psychological Association in 2019 reveal that over 70 million people are currently suffering with an eating disorder. This figure is also predicted to rise. A major area of concern is the low response rates individuals are having to the current therapies that are available to treat eating disorders. One form of psychotherapy that may have a very beneficial impact on treating these individuals is music therapy. Central to the principles of music therapy are issues of identity and identity formation, both of which are suggested to play a major part in the development of eating disorders. As music therapy has something very unique to offer in the area of identity, it is posited that this type of therapy may have much to offer these individuals. This theoretical dissertation explores several studies that focus on the relationship between music therapy, identity formation and eating disorders. Results show that individuals who have an eating disorder experience positive impacts in areas of their identity, self-esteem and connection to themselves after receiving music therapy. While these results are positive, studies are limited, and much more work is needed in this area to explore this link further.