8 Mind-blowing Advantages of Music Therapy
Music therapy draws on the power of music in a therapeutic relationship to manage a range of conditions and improve your quality of life. There are many advantages of music therapy, especially as a music therapist tailors sessions to your needs.
A recent study (Rebecchini L. 2021) shows that the benefits of music therapy can be seen as all-encompassing, i.e., it protects and boosts both our physical and mental health.
Music therapists use a person’s responses and connections to music to encourage positive changes in mood and overall mental mindset. Music therapy offers people a creative and accessible way of expressing their feelings and processing their experiences.
You may sing or play instruments, listen to music, or discuss the meaning of lyrics. You don’t need musical skills, and people of all ages can benefit.
It can help improve confidence, communication skills, independence, self-awareness, and awareness of others, as well as concentration and attention skills.
Let us go over the many benefits of music therapy in details.
8 Advantages of Music Therapy
Music can affect a client's attention, emotion, cognition, behavior, and communication. It can also help bring about relaxation and pleasure. Thus, it is safe to say that music therapy is beneficial in all aspects of life.
Here are some of the advantages of music therapy:
#1 Reduces anxiety
Anxiety disorders cause symptoms such as racing and ruminating thoughts, extreme fear, frequent uncertainty, and worrying about the future. Music therapy for anxiety can assist in alleviating the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety.
Through a technique called the iso principle, music is matched to an individual’s present mood and then adapted to facilitate mood adjustment. If someone is feeling anxious, a music therapist may assist them in creating a playlist that gradually moves from fast, strong-beat music towards slower, simpler music.
Musical affirmations—where a therapist helps a client identify an affirmation to calm their anxiety and puts it to a simple repeated melody—can help the client remember affirmations in the moment.
#2 Reduces depression
Common symptoms of depression include low energy, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and a loss of interest in or pleasure in preferred activities. Music therapy can be an effective treatment for depression because it gives one access to a variety of sounds and expressions. Through improvisational instrument play, a client explores and receives instant auditory feedback on different moods and sounds.
As a client experiencing depression explores the range of musical expression, they may begin to access a wider range of emotional experiences, paving the way for improved mood and feelings of hope.
#3 Reduces stress
Stress can increase heart rate, breathing rate, irritability, and restlessness. Through a process in music therapy called entrainment, if you hear a steady rhythm, your heart rate or breathing will eventually begin to match that rhythm.
Music therapists may pair accompanying music with a technique called progressive muscle relaxation. In this technique, the therapist invites participants to tense and release specific muscle groups, and provides musical accompaniment that evokes feelings of tension and release.
Research has also shown that singing lowers levels of cortisol and cortisone, two hormones released when experiencing stress.
#4 Improves emotional regulation and processing
Music is processed in the brain’s limbic system, which is the storehouse of other emotional processing and regulating systems. This is why certain music, even without any lyrics, can sound “sad,” “happy,” etc. Instrumental improvisation is often used to explore how different emotions might sound. For example, a client may play an emotion they are currently experiencing and an emotion they would like to experience and contrast the two sounds.
Clients will often identify emotions in the song that are actually a reflection of their own inner experience. This then provides the opportunity to further process those emotions.
#5 Promotes feelings of safety and security
In order for any change to occur, one must feel safe enough to explore something new. Individuals who have experienced any sort of acute or chronic trauma may struggle with feeling safe. In a music therapy setting, the therapist is specially trained to make the environment accessible and promote a therapeutic relationship based on safety and trust.
Music itself has unique elements that lend to safety and security. Music often exists within a structure; there is often a steady rhythm and a clear sense of a beginning, middle, or end within a piece.
#6 Improves attachment
It is common for individuals with mental health needs to have experienced some sort of disruption in their early caregiving relationships. By engaging in interpersonal music experiences, relationship dynamics can often be replicated and readdressed. The therapist uses musical techniques, such as reflecting the client’s music back to them, to give the client a sense of being heard, listened to, and valued.
Music therapists can also work with caregivers and children directly to promote co-regulation and bonding. The relational dynamics of intermusical connections can build up positive attributes in the client and assist in developing healthy relationship capacities.
#7 Promotes resilience
Everyone experiences setbacks in life; our resilience determines how we move through those difficult moments and continue to live a life of meaningful experiences. Resilience is not a static personality trait, but something that can grow and develop throughout our lifetime. Using music as a form of self-care to regulate mood can be one tool in a person’s resilience toolbox.
Music therapy experiences also lend themselves to finding a sense of meaning in music. This allows one to practice another resilience tool: finding value in their circumstances.
#8 Physical Benefits
The most common use of music therapy is to promote physical benefits, even in the area of physical rehabilitation. Music also elicits unconscious physical responses. Music affects the parts of our brain responsible for autonomic and unconscious functions (such as breathing, heart rate, some movements, etc.)
Music therapy can help facilitate physiological changes such as improved respiration, lowered blood pressure, a regulated heart rate, increased muscle strength, and improved fine motor skills.
Therefore, music therapy can be an effective and enjoyable tool for reducing the symptoms of numerous conditions, including depression and anxiety. People have used music for its powerful effects on mood and emotions for a long time.