Four Types of Interventions in Music Therapy and How it Helps

We all have that one go-to album or artist that brings us joy, calm and makes us feel content. We’re aware of the profound impact music has on us and how it triggers our emotions in ways that are both predictable and unexpected. 

Music therapy, in a similar way, has shown to be a great way to reconnect with oneself and explore ways to attain positive mental well-being in the long run. It has proven to help improve self-expression, reduce social anxiety, help with insomnia and more. 

Let us explore the ways through which this unique method of mental health therapy enables a person to cope with their mental health challenges. 

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is not just about listening to relaxing, soothing music. The goal of music therapy is to offer diverse ways for a person to creatively utilize music in tune with their mental health needs. 

Personalization is a critical aspect of music therapy as each person has different tastes in music as well as the ability to create it. This is where music therapists come in. They work together with the client to assess a person’s concerns and needs, to create specific short and long-term goals. 

Music therapy could also be conducted in an individual or a group setup, based on the requirements of the client. 

What are the Four Methods of Music Therapy?

Music therapy can be broadly divided into 4 categories, and are conducted in different styles based on the therapist’s assessment of what the client needs. 


The receptive music therapy method involves the client listening to music in some manner or the other. Music is played for the client to respond to, in their own way. They could talk about what it makes them feel, they could sing along, dance along or discuss the song with the therapist. 

Receptive method also focuses on providing peace and calm to a person, but that is not always the case. While upbeat, dancy songs suit some, others prefer slower, often classical songs. 

The themes and vibe brought by the song is often a later part of the dialogue between the therapist and the client. 

Movement could also play a key role in receptive music therapy as it allows a person to free their mind and body and focus on enjoying the songs and express themselves through creative movements. 


The recreative method is all about recreating a song that already exists. This could include either signing or playing the song with instruments. 

Oftentimes, the songs are selected based on the choice of the client depending on the music that they enjoy or trigger certain emotions in them. However, the therapist may also recommend songs which they believe the client can recreate. 

While playing music or singing in itself is an activity that stimulates the brain and improves motor skills, it also helps the client engage with the music and the therapist, recollect memories or positive experiences, connect with reality and generally promote relaxation. 


Improvisation is also about improvising while signing or composing music, with a goal in mind. 

Activities could start off with simple tunes in the mind which can be created through clapping or humming, but lead to full fledged compositions. This method is often used when a person finds it difficult to express their thoughts by discussing music. 

By allowing creative expression with a goal in mind, they are encouraged to express in a fun, engaging way. This method may sound overwhelming, but it is tailored to support the client throughout. 

As the client improvises, they go through a journey of self-exploration and awareness. The idea is to identify thought patterns and mediums of expression based on the natural steps a person takes while improvising. 


This method of music therapy allows the client to create their own musical composition, often with lyrics. 

The therapist plays a vital role in supporting the person in creating the music that reflects their feelings, experiences or mood at the given time. This method is a great way to validate a person’s experiences and express their emotions without having to go through the traditional route. It also helps them bring out their creative self and boosts their confidence. 

Remember, you do not need to be an experienced artist to produce your own music. Based on your interests and strengths, it can be a full-blown composition or just an exercise in building lyrics for a song. 

Music Therapy Instruments

The beauty of music therapy is that it can be explored with a diverse range of musical instruments. Nobody is expected to go through music therapy with a particular instrument or restricted to an instrument they are experienced at. 

It’s all about finding what suits you best and connecting with yourself in the process! Therapists often come from varying musical backgrounds but typically encourage using diverse types of instruments including strings, percussion, jazz, voice and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many methods of music therapy are there?

Traditionally, there are 4 methods of music therapy - Receptive, Recreative, Improvisation and Compositional. However, music therapy is flexible and adaptive, designed to best suit the mental health goals of the client. 

Are there different types of music therapy?

The different types of music therapy are Receptive, Recreative, Improvisation and Compositional. 

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