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Music therapy in eating disorder treatment and its synergy with systemic and family-based therapy approaches: A systematic review


Eating disorders are serious psychosomatic disorders and constitute the most common chronic disorder of female adolescence. Men experience a later onset but appear to constitute around 25% of adult cases. Due to their comorbidities and high mortality rate, these conditions pose a significant health risk. Although systemic and family therapy are considered among the most successful treatment modalities in adolescence, there is a need for expanded treatment options. With this background, the question arises as to what extent music therapy is already integrated into treatments. This review aims to include studies on music, music therapy, and eating disorders in general and covering all age groups. In all, 26 studies met the criteria for review, with a total of 1026 participants. None of the studies used music therapy combined with systemic or family-based therapy. However, despite differences between study designs, the individual studies show commonalities in their interventions and a relationship to the systemic and family-based approach. This review suggests that music therapy may be a valuable complement to the treatment modalities of systemic and family-based therapies as well as to constellations and sculpture approaches in eating disorders treatment. Further research is recommended to evaluate the effectiveness of such combined approaches.

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