Music therapy is a form of “healing through sound” used for centuries. It involves the therapeutic use of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs in an individual or group setting.
Music therapists help people manage pain, deal with depression, improve memory and reduce stress. The benefits of this type of therapy are wide-ranging and can be life-changing for those who need it most.
For example, music therapy may help you get more comfortable during difficult medical procedures. Patients report less anxiety when they hear their favorite tunes played before surgery or other procedures. In addition, it may provide relief from chronic pain by reducing your perception of pain intensity.
In addition to these benefits, music therapy can also help improve mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
And finally, it can be a powerful social tool that helps people connect with others, fostering new and stronger relationships. In this article, we will explore some benefits of music therapy.
What Is Music Therapy and How Does It Work?
Music therapy is a psychotherapeutic practice that uses the therapeutic properties of music to improve health.
A credentialed and registered music therapist who has completed an approved music therapy program uses music interventions, which are evidence-based and clinically proven, to help clients achieve individualized goals.
The Types of Music Therapy
Music therapy is an occupational therapy field that encourages the release of emotional tension. Patients can express themselves through song, spontaneous movement, or other music therapy methods.
A music therapist can work with individuals or groups and adjust music therapy sessions to meet the needs of each individual.
There are five main types of music therapy:
This type of music therapy uses music that the therapist has chosen to represent feelings or experiences. The person listens to this music to understand their emotions and thoughts.
For example, if someone feels stressed, there might be a specific song representing what they are experiencing. Then, they can listen to that song during their therapy session to explore the feelings that it brings up for them.
This type of therapy uses music to help people express their emotions. The therapist will work with the person to help them write a song about anything they feel. The song can be about anything, and it can be sung or played on an instrument.
This type of music therapy uses music to achieve different goals. For example, the therapist might use music to help a person increase their cognitive function or improve their emotional regulation.
Movement and Dance
This type of therapy uses movement and dance to help people express their emotions. The therapist will work with the person to create a dance representing their feelings.
Receptive Music Therapy
This type of music therapy uses pre-recorded music to help people relax and improve their mood. For example, the therapist might have the person listen to certain kinds of music or specific songs to achieve these goals.
How Does Music Therapy Work?
There is still some debate over how exactly music therapy works, but research suggests that it positively affects the brain. When we listen to music, our brains release dopamine, making us feel good.
Music therapists use various techniques, including listening to music, singing, moving rhythmically or expressively to music, and playing instruments. As part of the therapeutic relationship, music therapists create tailored experiences that meet their clients’ individual goals and needs.
Through various activities, the therapist helps the patient experience the benefits of music therapy. The therapist uses song lyrics, instruments, or accompaniments to help patients achieve their therapeutic goals.
Music can affect us physically as well. The rhythm of the music can stimulate certain parts of our bodies, improving blood flow to those areas. It can also act as a distraction, which lessens the focus on any pain that we might be experiencing.
There are other ways that music therapy works, such as stimulating brain function and releasing serotonin, which is a hormone that controls moods. It also increases oxytocin, another hormone that helps us feel good.
Music therapy can help us relax and focus. It can improve our moods, reduce anxiety and stress, and promote feelings of well-being. It can also stimulate our connection with others and express our emotions.
Therapy can include listening to live or recorded music, composing, singing, moving to music, and working with musical instruments.
What Is Music Therapy Used For?
Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
Through the therapeutic relationship with a music therapist, people with disabilities may find self-expression, communication, coordination, emotional release, and cognitive stimulation. It may also help them relearn motor movements or develop new skills.
There are many benefits of music therapy. Some of these benefits include:
Recovering from an Illness or Surgery
Those going through a difficult time, especially those recovering from surgery or illness, can benefit from music therapy.
One of the most well-known examples is cancer wards, where music therapy helps patients feel better physically and psychologically. People recovering from other types of surgical procedures and those with chronic pain conditions can benefit from this as well.
Music therapy has been found to reduce anxiety in students taking exams, particularly when it comes to math tests.
One study found that students who listened to music before their math test scored higher than those who didn’t. The researchers believe that the music helped to reduce stress and improve focus.
One of the most promising areas for music therapy is with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is evidence that music therapy can improve communication skills, self-awareness, and social skills.
In addition to playing instruments, music therapists often encourage children with special needs to create original songs or draw pictures that tell a story using musical notes.
People going through a stressful period at work can benefit from music therapy by learning to relax and focus.
In one study, employees who underwent music therapy had lower stress levels and were more productive than those who didn’t. The researchers believe that the music helped to improve their mood and concentration.
As well as the benefits listed above, music therapy has been found to help with:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved emotional well-being
- Increased motivation
- Improved sleep
- Reduced pain and anxiety from medical procedures
- Promotes self-expression and communication
- Encourages socialization and teamwork skills
- Increases focus and attention
The benefits of music therapy are vast and varied. Music therapists work with people from all walks of life to help them increase their quality of life by improving mood, relieving stress, reducing anxiety, and more.
Music therapy is essential for physical, emotional, and mental health. It can positively affect various physical, mental, and emotional problems.
Not only has music therapy been shown to help people in treatment for various illnesses, but it can also be helpful when someone simply wants to become more active or spend time doing something they enjoy.
With such a wide variety of benefits, music therapy may be the perfect solution for anyone looking for a way to relax and improve their life.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.