Music therapy is an evidence-based therapeutic modality that can be used as part of a recovery treatment plan. The benefits of music therapy have been well recorded. It is a low-risk form of treatment that can provide you with benefits that other therapies may not be able to. During your recovery journey, you’ll be encouraged to try several different types of therapies and treatments to discover what works best for you.
Benefits of Music Therapy
You may feel more or less connected to music than others. However, everyone can benefit from the connectivity that music provides. For instance, music can uplift your mood, serve as a form of self-expression, and provide a meaningful connection among communities, families, and friends. Music has been used to find a sense of connection and community for centuries. In medieval times, monks created music for spiritual connectivity. This is one of the earliest records of music. However, music has always been a large part of various cultures.
Self-expression can help you become more connected with yourself and others. Throughout history, music has been used for creative storytelling as a way for people to express their thoughts and emotions. In doing so, music creates a sense of empathy and understanding for others. You may find that music can provide a sense of identity and a way to better understand yourself. It can bring connectivity to a culture, generation, or minority population.
Defining Music Therapy
Music engages in various brain areas connected with your emotions, motivations, cognitions, and motor functions. Furthermore, music therapy can be used to help improve:
- Depressive symptoms
- Quality of life
- Neuromotor performance
- Functional recovery
The approach a music therapist takes will depend on your treatment goal. Typically, music therapy approaches include relationship building, rehabilitation, and listening to music.
Music therapy allows you to build a musical relationship with your therapist, fostering trust and honesty. Through the use of music, you may be more comfortable opening up to a therapist about complex emotions or painful memories. Music can evoke strong emotions, which can help you healthily reprocess your emotions, thoughts, or memories.
This type of approach uses neuroscience to activate the perception and productive areas of your brain through music stimulation. Music therapy that focuses on rehabilitation uses a combination of music stimulation and therapeutic techniques to improve symptoms of neurological disorders such as sensory issues, cognitive problems, and motor dysfunction. This approach to music therapy has helped improve movement in stroke patients and the use of language in people with aphasia.
The music-listening approach to music therapy doesn’t require a trained therapist. For this reason, some researchers have termed this type of music therapy as “music medicine.” Listening to music can improve socialization and motivation, and help with functional recovery.
History of Music Therapy
The concept of music therapy can be described as evolving over three phases. First is the phase of magical healing, where people thought sounds of nature helped them communicate with a supernatural spirit. Second is the religious healing phase, where music was believed to be a gift from God and used in religious rituals. Third is the scientific phase, where Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle considered the emotional impact of music on a person’s mood.
However, a modern music therapy approach can first be found post-World War II. During this era, several musicians traveled around America and performed at hospitals to provide comfort for veterans suffering from emotional trauma. This led to the first formal mention of music therapy in clinical trials, in 1964, and its eventual availability to the public in the 1990s.
A Music Therapy Session
The definition of music therapy is broad. It can include anything from singing, listening to music, dancing, playing an instrument, or writing a song. How you interact with music in a music therapy session will depend on your mental and physical health needs. Some people might interact with the music more than others.
A music therapy session can take place in an individual or group setting. Generally, a therapy session will consist of a conversation with a therapist about how the music and interaction with the music made you feel. A session could involve you reprocessing a painful memory while listening to music or expressing your emotions in the form of a song.
Is Music Therapy Right for You?
The truth is, you won’t know if music therapy is right for you until you try it. All therapy takes dedication and time before experiencing emotional growth or self-improvement. No single type of therapy is magic, and you might need a combination of different types of therapy to get you on the right path to recovery. However, music therapy could potentially help you build better relationships, healthily process your emotions, and reduce stress.
Music therapy could help you manage your substance use disorder or mental health symptoms. History is rich with examples of music creating connectivity and community, but you won’t know if music therapy is right for you until you try it. Restoration Recovery Centers offers music therapy and various other complementary treatments that allow you to safely explore what coping mechanisms work best for you. Our mental health professionals can help you develop coping and emotional management tools that will assist you as you work toward your recovery goals. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call (888) 290-0925 to learn how Restoration Recovery Centers can help you restore your life’s purpose and heal from addiction.