Meaning, Recovery, and Psychotherapy in Light of the Art of Jazz

David Roe, Paul H. Lysaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Psychotherapy as a practice in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation is increasingly seen as a means to promote recovery from serious mental illness (SMI). While mostly informed by mental health theory and research, art might offer profound and enduring insights to inform psychotherapy with people with SMI. In this article, we argue that jazz, a form of art which entails both structure and improvising, may enrich and broaden clinicians' abilities to facilitate meaning-making with clients to promote recovery.

METHOD: Through the literature review and theoretical synthesis, we explore how jazz may be a space where specific processes can be observed and accordingly guide psychotherapy focused on subjective forms of recovery.

RESULTS: We argue that jazz offers a space to see how timing, risk-taking, the ability to be simultaneously inside and outside an activity, and support for the process of tension and release can inform and inspire the process of improvisation within psychotherapy.

CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Jazz offers a creative framework which can help clinicians observe and facilitate recovery processes in psychotherapy. The perspective of jazz in the therapeutic arena of psychiatric rehabilitation emphasizes the potential of the arts and humanities to continue to enrich our understanding and guide our teaching and training. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. All rights reserved


  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Psychiatric Rehabilitation
  • Psychotherapy


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