How does music therapy work? What is it?

Using a person’s reactions to and relationships with music, music therapy aims to promote mood improvement and general well-being. Singing, dancing, or simply listening to music are all examples of activities that can be used in music therapy.

Music has a profound psychological impact. Various musical genres can instantly change a person’s mood and aid in the experience and processing of a variety of emotions, including joy, enthusiasm, melancholy, tranquillity, and thinking.

Music therapy encourages people to actively create the music they find therapeutic because making music may be just as therapeutic as listening to it.

This page defines music therapy, describes how it might enhance mental health, and discusses how it affects various mental health disorders.

How does music therapy work?

Using music’s potent therapeutic properties, music therapy helps people feel better. It serves as an alternative to other therapeutic approaches like counselling or CBT (CBT).

The responses and associations that a person has to music are used by music therapists to promote mood and general mental state improvements. Music therapy may involve both listening to music and making music using various instruments. Moreover, singing or dancing to music may be involved.

It can help with concentration and attention problems as well as with confidence, independence, and communication skills.

Music therapy involves a patient and their therapist engaging in live musical interaction. Music therapy may also heavily incorporate improvisation. This entails improvising music in response to a theme or atmosphere, such as simulating a storm with drums and a rainstick.

The effects of music on the brain are quite complex. Several parts of the brain process each component of music, including pitch, speed, and melody. For instance, the frontal lobes decipher the emotional impulses produced by the music, the cerebellum handles rhythm, and a little fraction of the right temporal lobe aids in pitch understanding.

When exposed to intense music, the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward centre, can even cause strong physical indicators of pleasure, such as goosebumps.

These profound bodily responses to music that people have can be used in music therapy to support those who are dealing with mental health issues.

Origins and history

Human life has included music for thousands of years. Particularly, specialists have discovered instruments that date back over 40,000 years, indicating that the urge for humans to express themselves or communicate through music has a long history.

Although music has been used for therapy and healing since the time of Ancient Greece, the modern therapeutic use of music didn’t start until the 20th century, following the conclusion of World War II. Music therapy was first mentioned in a 1789 piece titled “Music physically considered.”

Throughout the 1800s, medical research into music’s healing properties grew, and by the 1940s, institutions were providing courses in music therapy. E. Thayer Gaston was one of three persons who structured and pushed the practise in order for it to become a recognised kind of treatment. He was also one of the three men who invented the use of music as a therapeutic tool.

Music therapists now work in private care, education, and social care, and there are numerous music therapy associations across the world.

in comparison to other types of therapy

As music therapy does not rely on verbal communication, it may be more beneficial for those who find it difficult to express themselves orally. This could be the result of a mental health problem, an acquired brain damage, a handicap, or a neurodegenerative disease like dementia.

Counselling and CBT are both talking therapies, therefore they might not be appropriate for those who have trouble communicating verbally. This is a situation where music therapy may be useful.

In addition, if a person is unable to leave their bed or go to a therapist’s office, mental health professionals can bring music therapy right to them. Children who desire to receive music therapy in a familiar setting can also benefit from doing so at home.

Advantages Listening to or making music has additional advantages that spoken therapies might not be able to provide.

Learning and practising a piece of music, for instance, can enhance one’s memory, coordination, reading, understanding, and maths skills while also teaching responsibility and perseverance.

A person can feel extremely proud of themselves for producing a piece of music, which can lift their spirits and boost their self-confidence.

People can learn about many different cultures through music therapy since it allows clients to experiment with any style or genre of music. People can better relate to the music they are hearing or playing if they are aware of its background.
Although talking therapy includes self-expression, people can express themselves more creatively through music therapy, which can be a more fun method to work through challenging emotions.

Another approachable method for people to use music to examine and process challenging feelings, experiences, or memories is lyric analysis.

For instance, if someone is unable to articulate themselves, they can uncover themes and meanings in lyrics and provide alternative lyrics that apply to their experiences and lives. This can help them find the words that best describe their feelings.

How it alleviates anxiety

Several studies suggest that music therapy can help people feel less anxious, particularly those who have cancer, are having surgery, and are entering intensive care unitsTrusted Source. According to certain research, listening to music may also lower blood pressure and pulse rate, which directly affects how stressed out a person feels.

Also, there is proof that persons receiving music therapy report feeling less anxious right away after the session, suggesting that it can be a practical strategy to get rid of symptoms rapidly.

How it aids in treating depression

According to studies, music therapy can help with depression symptoms. Those who receive music therapy in addition to normal depression therapies, such talking therapy, tend to do better than those who only receive standard therapy.

Dopamine, a feel-good hormone, and endorphins, hormones that can elevate mood and alleviate pain, can both be released by listening to music.

Even while it cannot treat depression, music therapy has some short-term advantages. Through elevating mood and fostering connection and self-expression, Trusted Source.


Vidhi Kapoor

Hi, I'm Vidhi! I have 2 years of content writing experience. I am running, and websites individually. And also I work for many other agencies and websites.

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