Music Interventions for Stress Reduction

Een onderzoek van:

Martina de Witte, MA, MT-BC, Prof dr Susan van Hooren, Prof dr Xavier Moonen, Prof Dr Geert-Jan Stams

The main goal of this PhD project focuses on creating empirical evidence regarding the effective factors of music on reducing arousal in people with mild intellectual disability (MID) and stress related problems.
People with MID experience more stress than people without intellectual disabilities.
Because of their cognitive disabilities, it is important to develop experiential interventions for stress regulation.
Previous research shows music can lower arousal levels and these calming effects of music positively affects health and well-being.
Music has been also established as an effective intervention to reduce acute stress in all kinds of settings.

Music therapists use musical techniques for stress related problems and these techniques are mostly based on lowering the arousal levels.
They rely mainly on their own implicit practical knowledge and these knowledge is not widely shared.
Theoretical assumptions regarding these musical techniques are little empirical studied.
Besides, there is a lack of reliable and valid measurement instruments to assess the degree of stress in people with MID.

First, this PhD research focuses on both empirical research and practice based research to explicit the effects of music on the lowering of stress levels and these results leads to specific music therapeutic techniques.
Second, the development (and validation) of  measurement instruments to assess the degree of stress in people with MID.
Thirdly, the effects of the developed music therapeutic techniques are examined.

This PhD project is a cooperation between the lectorate KenVaK, the University of Amsterdam and HAN university of Applied Science.
The supervisor is prof. dr. Geert-Jan Stams (University of Amsterdam). The co-supervisors are dr. Susan van Hooren en prof. dr. Xavier Moonen.

Links to publicated articles:

Full article: Effects of music interventions on stress-related outcomes: a systematic review and two meta-analyses (

Full article: Music therapy for stress reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis (

Frontiers | Music Therapy Interventions for Stress Reduction in Adults With Mild Intellectual Disabilities: Perspectives From Clinical Practice | Psychology (

The PhD research in the national media:

Bel de psycholoog maar af, luister naar de Beatles: ‘Muziek werkt minstens zo goed bij stress’ | Nijmegen |

‘Muziektherapie net zoveel effect als psycholoog’ | RTL Nieuws

De kracht van Muziektherapie | NPO Radio 1

Muziekinterventies verminderen stress – Universiteit van Amsterdam (

Muziektherapie helpt tegen stress – Universiteit van Amsterdam (

Questions? You can contact Martina de Witte:


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