Integrating Positive Psychology and Elements of Music Therapy in Treating Adolescents with Suicidal Ideation

Project: Research

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In Hong Kong, the yearly number of suicides has increased considerably by 61%, from 784 (12.1%) in 1997 to 1,264 (18.6%) in 2003. As suicidal ideation may contribute to suicidal behavior, early intervention on adolescents with suicidal ideation is essential. Positive psychology, with its emphasis on building up a person’s cognitive, emotional and social strengths, provides a sound theoretical basis in programs for suicidal adolescents. In addition, music therapy enables adolescents to explore and understand their emotion, cognition and behavior in a musical environment where their hope, emotional competence and problem solving abilities can be developed and enhanced. Hence, elements of music therapy will be integrated with positive psychology, based on the Positive Adolescent Training through Holistic Social Programs, in designing an intensive group-based program for suicidal adolescents.The objectives of the study are (1) to integrate positive psychology and elements of music therapy in designing a protocol for treating adolescents with suicidal ideation, (2) to examine the effectiveness of the designed protocol in increasing the sense of hope, enhancing emotional competence and promoting problem solving abilities, hence decreasing anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation of the adolescents, (3) to produce a soft copy (DVD) of the manual detailing the protocol, program materials and results of the study, which will be distributed to all secondary schools in Hong Kong.Program effectiveness will be examined by conducting a 3-arm cluster randomized controlled trial comparing the integrated program to a positive psychology program and a wait-list control. Form 2 and Form 3 students from nine randomly assigned government and subsidized secondary schools, stratified by school banding, will be invited to participate in the study. A total of twenty seven intervention groups comprising ten 2- hour sessions, with eight students in each group, will be run in the participating schools by social workers with training in positive psychology and music therapy.Practically, this is the first program to apply music therapy, integrated with positive psychology program, to treat suicidal adolescents. Theoretically, it is innovative to examine the applicability of music therapy in enhancing positive psychology constructs in adolescents. Methodologically, the effect of the integrated program will be tested using a scientific 3-arm cluster randomized controlled trial. The program can help prevent potential suicidal adolescents. The production of the program manual can benefit not only all secondary school students in Hong Kong, but also those in mainland China and Western countries.


Project number9041934
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/06/147/05/18