Soothing Sounds: Music Therapy and Mental Health Recovery

Updated on November 3, 2020

Caring for our mental health is growing more critical by the day, and we are happy to see this change of perspective towards different mental illnesses and addressing them directly. Getting counseling sessions is now normalized, and mental health awareness only continues to improve and expand. However, beyond awareness, counseling and therapeutic sessions are also changing and innovating, and today we will be exploring the health profession of music therapy.

What Is Music Therapy?

As the name suggests, music therapy refers to the use of music interventions and activities to address the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of a person that traditional counseling is unable to reach. People are different, and we all have our own unique inclinations, and since music plays a vital role in everyone’s lives, it also bridges the gap for self-expression and tapping into the deeper self. Giving the therapist a better understanding of their mental recovery needs and providing the individual with a chance to come to terms with their troubles.

Does It Work?

Of course, it’s only natural that you question its effectiveness, but we can say for sure that music therapy does work and that most of the evidence is present everywhere around us. For example, many people use music to help them when exercising because it helps them focus on their workout and clears their minds. Another example, a vast majority of people have their comfort playlists to help them relax and unwind, which is proof of music’s ability to reduce stress. In fact, we can also see the use of music interventions in clinical practice.

  • Easing Anxiety: People who listened to music before the surgeries calmed their senses, eased their anxiety, and required fewer sedatives. Some even listen to music inside the operating room to feel less discomfort during their procedures.
  • Restoring Lost Speech: People suffering from stroke and traumatic brain injury often lose the ability to speak, but music therapy can help alleviate its effects and even restore it to normal. Through singing, they can organize their thoughts and ideas, relearning the ability to talk.

Where Is It Most Effective?

In mental health recovery, music therapy and musical interventions work best in group-based therapy sessions where participants can share, interact, and help reaffirm each other with the guidance of a music therapist. In doing so, participants are given the opportunity to do the following:

#1 Help People Open Up

Just as real estate agents help clients understand the different features of a house and lot listing, music in a group-based therapy session helps participants open up and understand each other.In a modern application of universalization, they are able to listen, reflect, and acknowledge each other’s shortcomings and find comfort in knowing that others have similar or related issues. Music serves as the catalyst, wherein, without it, people might not be as motivated to open up.

Likewise, group-based treatment gives participants an appropriate setting to share their lived experiences. And music therapy and intervention helps tailor certain activities and dialogues to give them various learning opportunities from one another.

#2 Inspire Insight

As music is excellent at evoking emotions, music therapy allows participants to have a heightened awareness concerning their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and also that from the perspective of others. Music interventions can help inspire insight among participants and explore the deeper side of themselves and reconcile with their problems.

For example, participants can be asked to describe an instrumental in their own words and describe what their feeling through the sound. Likewise, they can also create their own music and explore their own musicality as a form of expression, learning from their own compositions, and reflecting on that of others.

#3 Creating Emotional Bonds

Last but not least, since music therapy is established on reality testing and replicable activities, it helps create emotional bonds among the participants and the music therapist. With them supporting each other and receiving feedback on their experiences, there is a sense of transference in every therapy session.

Furthermore, because music therapy sessions give way for ventilation and displaying raw emotion, participants can be vulnerable and find comfort in knowing that there are others in the journey of self-expression just like them.

Music Heals

Music therapy is a great and useful alternative to traditional counseling sessions. It might even work better for some people who are naturally inclined to finding comfort in soothing sounds and environments. Self-expression is deeply valued in music interventions, and it is critical for anyone going through a mental health recovery. 

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