Music Therapy is a therapeutic approach that harnesses the power of music to address emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges. Trained music therapists use music-based interventions to improve clients' mental and emotional well-being, communication skills, and overall quality of life.Talk to a Professional
Through active engagement with music, clients can express themselves, reduce stress, and enhance self-awareness. Music Therapy is a versatile and effective method, beneficial for individuals of all ages and various health conditions.
Music has been considered a relaxing and often uplifting activity for ages, and music therapy adds direction and purpose to it, making it an effective tool to treat mental health conditions and promote positive mental health. It uses the power of music to address various emotional, social and mental challenges faced by a person. Music can be used in many ways including listening and interpreting, and singing or playing it with instruments. It is something that can benefit anyone regardless of their age, gender or background.
Music therapy can be conducted in different ways to address a range of challenges. Some of the common types of music therapy include:
Analytical music therapy utilizes music as a means to promote dialogue between the therapist and the client. While a person plays music through an instrument, a therapist looks to identify emotional, subconscious themes that are expressed through one’s music and discuss it actively with the client afterwards.
This type of music therapy involves certain psychoanalysis techniques and explores how it can be used to produce music in therapy. This normally involves encouraging a person to find their style of music that matches their internal emotions and feelings. This allows the client to identify with their thoughts and formulate a sense of self through music.
This type of music therapy uses the common, research backed cognitive behavioral therapy along with music. It looks to produce and reinforce positive behaviors while altering negative aspects of a person’s mental outlook. This follows a typical CBT structure and undergoes various phases wherein music is used in multiple ways.
Community music therapy aims to use music in a way that connects one to their community and promotes development from a collective point of view rather than individually. These sessions are conducted with the involvement of community members, and promotes engagement and collaboration between members.
This type of music therapy is a unique, creative method that involves playing a musical instrument along with the therapist, who also directly engages in the activity, through singing or playing an instrument. During these sessions, there is emphasis on creativity and improvisation as both the client and the therapist constantly adjust the way music is played, to improve self-expression.
This method specifically incorporates classic music to trigger certain emotions and creative aspects in a person. Since classical music across cultures are typically highly specific and invokes various sensory aspects of the brain, it helps with creating certain imageries and allows for self-discovery.
Vocal musical therapy focuses on the use of vocal exercises, sounds and other voice-based musical techniques that help you explore your emotions. Different vocal techniques often bring out the diverse emotions a person feels or experiences and the therapist discusses these themes with the client to develop a stronger understanding of oneself.
Different people respond to music in different ways and music means different things to different people, both in a biological and personal way. Thus, music therapists ensure a fluid, flexible approach to music therapy. A therapist is well-equipped to understand how various aspects of music including rhythm, melody, tempo affect a person’s brain and how it affects a person’s reaction to it. By triggering the reward centers of the brain, a therapist enhances the ability of a person to engage in self-discovery. A therapist also helps a person find themselves by making sense of the physical reactions to one engaging in music.
Music therapy is a very inclusive type of therapy, and can be used to great benefit by people from diverse backgrounds. It is most beneficial for those who find it challenging to express themselves through verbal communication. Music therapy can be availed by people who have both physical and psychological concerns. Although music therapy may not be directly impactful in curing or treating an issue, it can certainly help in the process towards achieving mental health goals. Other than helping find solutions for specific challenges, music therapy can be a great tool to lift the mood, build confidence and equip oneself with positive behaviors and practices to lead a happy life in the long run. It is also common for people who are looking to reduce stress from everyday life or people who want to improve their social skills.
Music’s ability to help a person express emotions and communicate their feelings, it has said to be an extremely advantageous therapy method to help alleviate symptoms of various mental health conditions and everyday mental health challenges including:
Other than that music therapy can also greatly help someone develop their identities, facilitate self-reflection, improve communication, produce coping skills, and manage emotions.
Music therapy can have a positive impact on various aspects of one’s life. Some of these include:
Music can be a great way to bring out any suppressed emotions that a person may be feeling or emotions that they are unable to express. It has also proven enormously beneficial in treating issues such as anxiety, depression and stress by promoting self-expression and confidence in a safe and comfortable environment.
Music allows a person to take charge of their senses, feelings and communicative methods. Thus, it is a possible way to expand one’s cognitive abilities and control. It can also equip someone with management skills that helps someone take control of situations and cope effectively with difficult or problematic circumstances.
Music therapy, especially when done together with a community, has shown to improve togetherness, collaboration, communication, interpersonal skills and more.
As with regular therapy, a music therapist conducts an initial assessment to identify the concerns a person may have or any mental health objective they may seek to achieve. After the therapist has a strong idea of one’s unique needs, they usually help create a personalized plan that is in line with the person’s preferences, capabilities and objectives. While music therapy may take a directive or non-directive route, the therapist is involved with helping a person express themselves through the process, discuss with them regarding the activity, and learn from it. Music therapy is often done in association with other modes of therapy in a complimentary fashion. Music therapists often work with other therapists to build and adjust plans for their client based on the progress their client is making.
While different types of music therapy follow diverse procedures, it usually follows a general structure upon which further adjustments can be made.
Before music therapy, the client’s concerns are discussed and their needs are assessed. It is normal for a therapist to discuss the status of the client’s emotional well-being, interpersonal relationships, their trauma history, cognitive skills, communication skills and even their musical background and capabilities. This helps the therapist gain a better understanding of the client’s mental health requirements as well as musical preferences to design sessions accordingly. Your age, background or stage of development (especially for children) may influence the type of activity a therapist may recommend from this stage onwards.
During music therapy, the therapist recommends various forms of activities that involve music and keeps track of how the client is responding to them. This can involve creating music which may entail the full process from writing the lyrics, to composing and even singing it. It can also involve singing songs as it is considered an effective relaxation and expression technique. Further one could listen to music and simply enjoy it or discuss their feelings on it, or dance to the music if that’s something they feel comfortable with. A person could also play an instrument of their choice and both showcase their talent and communicate their inner feelings. A therapist provides constant motivation and encouragement, and helps boost confidence of the person through the process as they gradually express themselves over time.
What Should I Expect After the Music Therapy?
Music therapy is usually done along with other forms of therapy that often aims to address specific issues. In such cases, a client continues with other forms of therapy until their concerns are mitigated. Generally, if a person feels that their goals have been met, they may discontinue the therapy. That said, they can choose to participate in further sessions as it offers a positive environment, reduces stress and lifts one’s mood.
Music therapy has been proven to be an effective, research-backed approach that can help deal with anxiety. Music is said to positively impact the brain’s reward centers and reduce stress hormones in the body. These have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms in a person. For some people, while it may not have an instant impact on a person’s mental state, one can experience reduced anxiety after multiple sessions of safe self-expression, communication and confidence-boosting interactions with the music therapist.
Music therapy is commonly used as part of tackling symptoms of depression in the long run. Verbal communication may not be ideal for a number of people with depression and music has shown to be effective at promoting self-discovery and communication for them. Music also releases hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which helps improve mood. It is important to note that music therapy by itself cannot be a solution to depression and is especially beneficial at alleviating symptoms, creating confidence and being a motivational factor.
Many people find music to be helpful in achieving sleep, when dealing with insomnia. While specific types of music are more beneficial for some, it can also be achieved through white noise. Music provides an alternative and long-term solution to medication. Music therapy can empower someone to manage their insomnia better and provide the adequate practical recommendations as well as emotional reinforcement for the same.
Music has been explored as a potential strategy for acute and chronic pain management in all age groups. Research has shown that listening to music when healing from surgery or an injury, for example, may help both kids and adults cope with physical pain.19
Music therapy may help reduce pain associated with:
Chronic conditions: Music therapy can be part of a long-term plan for managing chronic pain, and it may help people recapture and focus on positive memories from a time before they had distressing long-term pain symptoms.
Labor and childbirth: Music therapy-assisted childbirth appears to be a positive, accessible, non-pharmacological option for pain management and anxiety reduction for laboring people.
Surgery: When paired with standard post-operative hospital care, music therapy is an effective way to lower pain levels, anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure in people recovering from surgery
If you are looking to tackle a specific problem, it is likely that you may have reached out to standard therapists. In such a scenario, it is best to follow the recommendation of your regular therapist before you decide to take music therapy. Generally, it is preferable to choose a music therapist based on referrals from close friends or family members who have adequate experience in this form of therapy. You could also consider choosing a therapist online once you confirm their experience and credentials. Mindtalk offers music therapy for varying mental health problems through a number of qualified music therapy professionals. Do not hesitate from having a preliminary discussion with the therapist before opting in.
What are some questions to ask about music therapy?
Questions about music therapy could involve queries surrounding its benefits, how it works, how long sessions are, its cost, the qualifications of the practitioner and more.
What are the limitations of music therapy?
Music therapy is not something everybody may enjoy or respond well to. It may also be something that some people find challenging to participate in. It is a type of therapy that facilitates better treatment rather than being directly responsible for treating a mental health issue.
How often should music therapy be done?
Music therapy can be weekly sessions or less frequent than that, depending on a person’s mental health goals and progress made during the initial sessions.
How long should music therapy last?
The duration of music therapy sessions are flexible and may last from somewhere between half an hour to one hour or in some cases, longer. It largely varies depending on the needs, goals and preferences of the client.
What is music therapy most commonly used for?
Music therapy is commonly used for various purposes, including emotional expression, self-discovery, stress reduction, improving communication skills, enhancing mood and treating specific mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
What type of music is most effective in music therapy?
The type of music that is used in music therapy is customized based on the needs of the client. They are often chosen as per the preferences towards certain genres or styles of music, as well as the requirements of the client.
Who needs music therapy?
Music therapy can be beneficial for people of all ages and can be used to alleviate symptoms for various mental health conditions. It can also be used for people seeking self-expression, personal growth, stress reduction, improvement in communication skills and more.