Scaffolding Young People’s Journey from Mental Health Services into Everyday Social Music Making

A Pilot Music Therapy Project


  • Cherry Hense University of Melbourne


music therapy, youth mental health, recovery, social competencies, inductive analysis


Many young people experience social isolation during times of mental illness which can impact lifelong health outcomes. Supporting recovery involves addressing the social dimensions of mental health and promoting capacity for community engagement. Music therapy groups offer people in mental health recovery opportunities to build social competencies in ways that align with recovery principles. However, no studies have explored the potential of such programmes in youth populations. A practice-based study was designed to explore how a pilot group music therapy project could support young people to bridge from mental health services into everyday community engagement. Young people participated in group music therapy sessions facilitated by a music therapist and music mentor. Mixed data was collected and analysed using inductive content and thematic methods. Findings show that young people primarily came to music therapy to work on social and musical competencies and the majority reported an improvement in their selected goal areas. Analytic themes illustrate young people’s experience of the group as a safe space that supported processes of coming together and constructing the social identity. Findings are discussed in relation to current mental health and music therapy practice. Recommendations for further service development are made and the concept of scaffolding is offered as a useful way of considering how support may be structured.

Author Biography

Cherry Hense, University of Melbourne

Cherry Hense, PhD. The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Cherry Hense



How to Cite

Hense, C. (2019). Scaffolding Young People’s Journey from Mental Health Services into Everyday Social Music Making: A Pilot Music Therapy Project. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 19(1). Retrieved from