California Highlands

Music Therapy: The Art of Healing Through Sound

There are plenty of different types of therapy methods available in the world of addiction treatment and recovery. With so many options currently being exercised by facilities and specialists around the world, how can you possibly isolate what type of therapy may be best for you?

There are various holistic methods that have garnered popularity over the past few years, as well as more traditional- style therapy methods with their roots based deeply in psychology. Additionally, music therapy is an expressive arts therapy method that is making waves in the treatment world as a successful form of addiction treatment.

Music is the universal language of humankind, and many music therapists perpetuate the idea that unlocking the healing powers possessed by music is a great way to help addicts and alcoholics struggling in the grips of addiction find success in recovery.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy, as defined by the American Music Therapy Association, is the clinical and evidence based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Essentially, music therapy attempts to reach the client by nonverbal means such as instruments and song. Music therapy can help people improve their mental health in a variety of ways. It has been observed that music therapy can better one’s cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life. There are two different distinct types of music therapy: receptive and active.

Receptive music therapy is typically a more informal environment in which the music therapist performs music or plays previously recorded music for the client. The patient is then encouraged to react to the music however he or she sees fit, whether is active listening, drawing, or meditating. In this way, the patient is able to do deep internal reflection, which can be insightful for the patient into their personal issues.

In active music therapy, the therapist and client work together to create music. They can use a variety of methods whether it’s singing or incorporating instruments or any objects they can find. Active music therapy allows for the client to get creative and express themselves and their inner feelings outwardly.

Music Therapy: A History

While incredibly popular in the addiction treatment and therapeutic world, music therapy, at least in its modern form, is a fairly new method of therapy. Origins of music therapy can be traced back as far as several centuries ago.

It is a useful tool for impacting a multitude of areas of the brain such as emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement. The power of music has been harnessed by people throughout the years.

However, it wasn’t until more recently that the art of music therapy had become refined to its current form we utilize today. Beginning in the early 20th century, during the first and second World Wars, music therapy had become far more sophisticated over the course of the last one hundred years.

The power of music’s ability to heal was first witnessed by the music groups who traversed the world, playing for the troops and injured veterans at various military bases. Doctors observed the beneficial effects the live music performances had on their patients and began to request the employment of professional musicians as a staple to hospital staff.

As a result of the new implementation of these professional musicians in the healthcare field, new training for these musicians to operate in a therapeutic environment became necessary.

Colleges and universities around the world jumped at the opportunity to offer music therapy as a part of their curriculum, desperate to be leaders in education of this new, specialized therapeutic method. Michigan State University became the first university to officially offer music therapy as a course in 1944 and by 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) was formulated.

How Does Music Therapy Actually Work and Who Can Benefit from It?

Music therapy is especially helpful to patients who find themselves struggling in the area of self-expression in the traditional verbal sense. Music can reach people who are otherwise turned off from their emotions.

This form of therapy is highly effective in inciting emotional responses, even from the most closed off patients. Patients struggling with depression, mood-related disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse disorders, autism, insomnia, dementia, and personality disorders seem to benefit the most from the healing properties attributed to music therapy.

Music can elicit positive responses emotionally as well as stimulates the reward center of the brain. Music can also lower stress levels and pain perception. Improvements have also been observed in patients’ self-esteem, verbal communication, socialization, and coping skills.

Songwriting is a useful form of music therapy in this sense. Music therapists can encourage their patients to free-write based on an emotionally stimulating topic, and throughout the session, patients may be able to write down what they would otherwise be unable to verbally express to the therapist, making huge leaps in their treatment.

Other ways that music therapy can reach patients is by providing starting points for discussions of feelings, values, and goals. Many times, songs can more accurately express thoughts and feelings than we ever could. Music therapy can be used in an individual or group setting. Considering its versatile nature, music therapy is an effective tool for a variety of patients struggling with a myriad of different issues.

Music Therapy and Addiction Treatment

In the realm of addiction treatment, studies have found music therapy to be very effective. Songwriting and lyric analysis have been shown to be directly related to positive emotional changes in patients.

Female patients tend to be more receptive to music therapy as opposed to male patients; however, both genders definitely show positive reactions to music therapy in relation to addiction treatment. Adolescents also showed a more positive reaction to music therapy as opposed to older adults.

However, it is observed that music therapy should not be used as a stand-alone method of addiction treatment. When used in conjunction with other forms of traditional therapies such as talk therapies and use of medications, it is highly effective.

It is also very individualized when it comes to whether the music therapy will be successful in treating addiction treatment as well. Only a certain type of patient will be receptive to the therapeutic measures. If the patient is not open to music therapy, there will be little to no progress observes.

Are You Struggling With Addiction? California Highlands is Here to Help

Music therapy can greatly benefit the addiction treatment world, but is not the answer to curing addiction. California Highlands Addiction Treatment recognizes the individual needs of each patient, and sports a variety of different treatment methods, including music therapy, and can create a custom-tailored treatment program designed to meet your specific needs.

Our facility is committed to your success; call us at 888-969-8755 and begin taking the first steps towards freedom from addiction today!