Music Therapy Programming for Persons With Eating Disorders

A Review With Clinical Examples


  • Varvara Pasiali Queens University of Charlotte
  • Dean Quick Queens University of Charlotte; Levine Cancer Institute
  • Jessica Hassall Queens University of Charlotte
  • Hailey A Park Voices Together



eating disorders, adolescent, music therapy, review, treatment


Eating disorders are serious disturbances in eating habits, body image attitudes, and weight that affect overall well-being and can have life-threatening consequences. Participation in music therapy sessions may allow for healing of anxiety, self-worth, and body-image challenges that each person may face. In this manuscript we examined the music therapy literature pertaining to clinical work with persons who have eating disorders. We describe six techniques (clinical improvisation, song autobiography, song discussion, songwriting, music assisted relaxation/imagery, and Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music) and their reported uses in the literature. While the evidence supports that these techniques are effective, we acknowledge that what works in one context may not be culturally relevant or effective in another. The overview of the evidence in the literature corroborates how therapists who work with persons who have eating disorders tend to use music therapy techniques as pathways for contributing to sense of self. For each technique, we provide clinical examples with a strong element of the need to redevelop or discover identity.

Author Biographies

Varvara Pasiali, Queens University of Charlotte

Dr. Pasiali is Associate Professor of Music Therapy at Queens University of Charlotte. Her research interests include early intervention, resilience, and family-based music therapy. Her main lecturing areas include improvisation, applied clinical techniques, and psychology of music. Dr. Pasiali is a regular presenter at conferences and has published in various journalsShe is an invited reviewer for music therapy journals including Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Journal of Music Therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy. She also serves as an associate editor for the open access peer-reviewed journal Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy.

Dean Quick, Queens University of Charlotte; Levine Cancer Institute

Dean Quick, MT-BC completed his music therapy degree at Appalachian State University. Board certified in music therapy since 2010, Dean Quick specializes in treating adults in oncology and individuals of all ages with mental health issues (specifically those with eating disorders and/or personality disorders). Dean is a clinical music therapy practicum supervisor at Queens University of Charlotte as well as the music therapist for Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, NC. Using clinical music therapy interventions in conjunction with deeply rooted existential beliefs and music-based treatment philosophies, Dean utilizes music to assist individuals in living a life empowered by music.

Jessica Hassall, Queens University of Charlotte

Jessica is an undergraduate music therapy student at Queens University of Charlotte.  Her primary instrument is flute.

Hailey A Park, Voices Together

Hailey graduated in 2018 with a BM in Music Therapy from Queens University of Charlotte. A board-certified professional music therapist, Hailey has a passion for working with individuals with special needs and fostering the growth of each client. Her diverse experience includes working with early intervention, special education and adult enrichment programs.



How to Cite

Pasiali, V., Quick, D., Hassall, J., & Park, H. A. (2020). Music Therapy Programming for Persons With Eating Disorders: A Review With Clinical Examples. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(3), 15.



Reflections on Practice