The Effect of Integrating Music Listening With an Attachment- And Affective-Focused Short-Term Psychotherapy in an Individual With Relational Trauma: The Case of "James"

G. Paul Blimling


The purpose of this study is to explore the utility and feasibility of incorporating client-chosen music listening into a short-term dynamic therapy model in an individual with trauma. Specifically, Diana Fosha’s Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) was chosen due to its focus on emotional experience and attachment. Relevant literature regarding the current clinical applications of music is presented, along with research supporting music’s effects on relevant psychotherapeutic mechanisms such as affect, autobiographical memory, and attachment. These effects are illustrated through the use of the hybrid case example of "James," a composite psychotherapy client who struggles with symptoms stemming from relational trauma. In addition to being informed by clinical examples in relevant psychological literature, James' case is assembled from actual psychotherapy cases of the author. Demonstrating this client’s course of treatment provides an avenue for describing key clinical issues related to the utility of music within a more traditional short-term dynamic therapy model. By adopting a qualitative, disciplined inquiry approach, treatment is tailored to the client’s unique psychological struggles within the context of historical, contextual, and relational factors. Following a pragmatic case study research format (Fishman, 2005), case material is analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Discussion explores how an integrative treatment approach, exemplified in the case of James, can effectively combine psychodynamic, relational, and musical elements in treating individuals with relational trauma and the resulting pathology. James’ case is designed to be a resource for therapists who seek to gain additional understanding of a new component in providing effective and meaningful treatment for individuals with relational trauma.


music listening; music & psychotherapy; music and emotions; experiential therapy; trauma treatment; AEDP; metaprocessing; therapist presence; psychotherapy integration; case study; clinical case study

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