8 Surprising Benefits of Music Therapy

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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People use music therapy all over the world to treat a wide range of psychological and physical conditions.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a well-researched approach to treating certain conditions with the therapeutic power of music. This is a technique that is primarily done in conjunction with a trained music therapist who will take the time to understand a patient’s needs and design a music therapy program based on their individual desires and health conditions. This therapy includes listening to and creating music, as well as moving to music and singing. Music therapy works by encouraging people to communicate more effectively, improving their mood and mental state in a self-controlled way, and physically rehabilitating patients through movement.

Types of Music Therapy

There are numerous types of music therapy, depending on the needs of each patient, including therapy for the physically handicapped, teenagers, those with heart problems, and for children. The approach for each patient may include one or more types of music therapy. Some of the most common approaches include the following:

A woman doctor with an older adult wearing headphones

According to research, music can positively impact the mental health of older adults. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

  • Bonny method of guided imagery and music
  • Dalcroze Eurhythmics
  • Kodaly
  • Neurologic music therapy
  • The Nordoff-Robbins method
  • Orff-Schulwerk approach

While the intricacies of each approach are beyond the scope of this article, most focus on a particular issue – communication, emotional control, lack of creative outlets, physical limitations to movement, perceptual function, motor skills, and overcoming learning disabilities, among others.

Benefits of Music Therapy

The many benefits of music therapy include treating autism, relieving anxiety and stress, treating psychological disorders, managing Alzheimer’s, improving self-expression, and protecting heart health, to name a few.

Autism

Children and adults with autism can struggle with communicating their emotions and empathizing with others, along with various other debilitating symptoms, but music therapy has been found to ease some of the internal stress and obstacles to interaction and engagement.

Anxiety and Stress

Listening to music is naturally stress-relieving, and when done in a controlled environment of a therapy session, it can notably lower stress hormone levels in the body and help people better control their mood.

Healing Speed

Some studies have found that this form of therapy, particularly when incorporating physical movement, can speed the healing process. It also helps in pain management.

Neurodegenerative Disease

For patients with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or those at high risk can find relief with the use of this therapy. It can help engage new senses, create new neural pathways, and cope with the depression and physical debilitation of these diseases.

Fetal Development

This form of therapy for pregnant women is believed to normalize fetal development, partly by reducing stress levels and balancing hormones in the mother.

Heart Health

Since this therapy is known to lower blood pressure and improve circulation in the body, it is associated with better heart health and a lower risk of coronary heart diseases.

Psychological Disorders

For those with schizophrenia and other psychological disorders, regular use of this therapy is known to help lessen the severity of symptoms, and also ease some of the secondary symptoms, such as insomnia.

Self-Expression

For many children and some adults, it can be difficult to express thoughts and communicate needs. This form of relaxing therapy can ease the transition between an internal life and external engagement, helping to normalize behavior and gradually improve patients’ self-expression.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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