Efficacy of emotion-regulating improvisational music therapy to reduce depressive symptoms in young adult students: A multiple-case study design.

Depression is a serious mental health problem. Therefore, Emotion-regulating Improvisational Music Therapy (EIMT) to prevent depression was developed. The main purpose of this study was to assess effects of EIMT on reducing depressive symptoms in young adult students. A multiple-case study design was used with multiple methods. Eleven cases (female students) were completed and analysed. Nine out of 11 students reported reliable reductions in depressive symptoms at post-test and four-week follow-up. All students reported significant improvement in emotion regulation at post-test and nine out of 11 at four-week follow-up. The group showed significant reduction of depressive symptoms and significant improvement in emotion regulation at post-test. Results remained after four-week follow-up for both outcomes. Qualitative analysis supported these results. Using piecewise multilevel regression analyses, a small significant effect was found for negative, but not for positive affect. Main limitations are a one-site study, with female students and researcher in dual-role. Further research is needed to provide support for generality. Findings demonstrate that EIMT as a preventive intervention can be beneficial for young adult students within a university context to decrease depressive symptoms and negative affect and improve emotion regulation. Multisite studies are indicated to study effects and mechanisms of EIMT.