This AMTA-Pro podcast captures an interesting conversation with our music therapy colleagues Kimberly Sena Moore and Deanna Hanson-Abromeit as they talk through the various steps involved when creating a viable music therapy intervention strategy. They emphasize how collaboration and forward thinking are necessary when systematically looking at the theoretical framework of a music intervention and the therapeutic function of the music when studying the feasibility and fidelity of the proposed music intervention. The clinical trials provide critical information about the efficacy of the intervention with clinical populations and provide input about replication and generalization. The text section of this AMTA-Pro podcast includes a wealth of resources as well as information about the Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF), a music intervention designed to promote emotion regulation in at-risk preschoolers. Kimberly and Deanna use their work in creating the MCRF as an example of the intervention development process.



Creating a Music Therapy Intervention Strategy

AMTA-Pro Podcast ~ August 2019

Kimberly Sena Moore, Ph.D., MT-BC and Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, Ph.D., MT-BC

The purpose of this podcast is to explain the processes involved in developing and examining a music intervention. We discuss the development of Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF), a music intervention designed to promote emotion regulation in at-risk preschoolers, as an example of the intervention development process.

About the MCRF intervention: Emotion regulation (ER) describes the processes one utilizes to manage and shape the dynamics and timing of emotional experiences and their expression. The emergence of maladaptive ER occurs in childhood and is a characteristic common to several clinical conditions. Maladaptive ER can significantly affect multiple areas in child development, such as the ability to learn in school, form and maintain healthy relationships with peers and adults, and manage and inhibit behavioral responses. Interventions for children at-risk for developing maladaptive ER skills are limited and need further exploration. Thus, the Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF) intervention was developed to provide in-the-moment practice of ER for at-risk preschoolers.

Take-away points

1) Music interventions are considered complex interventions. As such, it is important to undertake a systematic, phased research approach when developing a music intervention to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship of the intervention to the clinical problem and increased certainty to the mechanism of change.
2) Understanding an intervention involves being clear about the following: intervention goal or purpose; intervention components; specific elements (i.e., active ingredients theoretically expected to create change); non-specific elements (i.e., strategies to deliver the active ingredients); mode of delivery; and dosage (i.e., frequency and duration of music therapy sessions).
3) Phase 1 research involves the creation and preliminary testing of an intervention. This commonly includes a series of feasibility and pilots tests.
4) With music interventions in particular, it is important to examine and understand the role of the music experience itself on intervention efficacy, as well as the role of the music therapist.


Fachner, J. (2015). Measurement of musical responses. In B. Wheeler & K. Murphy (Eds.) Music therapy research (pp. 153-168). Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., Viswanath, K. (2015) Theory, research, and practice in health behaviors. In Glanz, Rimer, Vizwanath (Eds.) Health behavior: Theory, research, and practice, 5th ed. (pp.23-40) San Fransisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2015) A conceptual methodology to define the therapeutic function of music. Music Therapy Perspectives, 33(1), 25-38.

Kerlinger, F. N. (1979). Behavioral research: A conceptual approach. Philadelphia, PA: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, Inc.

Melnyk, B. M. & Morrison-Beedy, D. (2012). Intervention research: Designing, conducting, analyzing, and funding. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Mowbray, C. T., Holter, M. C., Teague, G. G & Bybee, D. (2003). Fidelity criteria: Development, measurement, and validation. American Journal of Evaluation, 24(3), 315-340.

Robb, S. L., Burns, D. S., & Carpenter, J. S. (2011). Reporting guidelines for music-based interventions. Journal of Health Psychology, 16, 342-393.

Sena Moore, K. & Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2018). Feasibility of the Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF) intervention for preschooler emotion regulation development: A mixed methods study. Journal of Music Therapy. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/jmt/thy014

About the Speakers 

Kimberly Sena Moore, Ph.D., MT-BC teaches in the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Her research focuses on emotion regulation development and her professional work on advocacy, policy, and social media communications. Email:

Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, Ph.D., MT-BC teaches at the University of Kansas. She serves on AMTA’s Assembly of Delegates and JMT’s editorial board. Deanna’s research focuses on music intervention development, particularly with infants. Email: