What is Music Therapy?

Have you ever turned on music to help get you out of a funk? Isn’t doing chores so much more fun when listening to music or singing? Music has a special quality to it, a power of its own. And this power to change moods and minds has made music a very effective type of therapy known as “music therapy.”

Music therapy is an evidence-based treatment that uses music, singing, and other music-modes and are carried out by a licensed music therapist. The therapy is not a passive one where a person simply listens to music, but rather active. A client could create, re-create, or self-express with any form of music to accomplish certain goals that they’ve agreed on with their therapist.

If it all sounds a little vague, that’s because music therapy is flexible and highly personalized to each person. In short, you’re able to express yourself through music with healing in mind. For those in addiction recovery, music therapy can unearth deep seated emotions, fears, or other blocks that need to be addressed.

What Types of Music Therapy Are There?

There are many different kinds of music therapy. It all depends on what your therapist or group treatment recommends. Types of therapy include:

  • Creating music: Creating and composing your own music and writing lyrics are great ways to express yourself. This can happen collaboratively—with your instructor or in a group—or just on your own.
  • Singing music: Singing can change your mood in a second and bring so much joy. Using your voice to share your thoughts and feelings is a great way to let loose and open up.
  • Listening to music: Music as a reflective tool can help you process your emotions. By enjoying the melodies or inspiring words, you can surpass your thoughts and feel what you need to feel.
  • Moving to music: Maybe one day you’re just tapping your toes to the beat. Maybe the next day you’re learning a choreographed dance.
  • Discussing lyrics: Lyrics can be good for reflection and thinking about your own life. They can even motivate and have the potential to inspire transformation. In a group therapy setting, these lyrics can form a common ground for conversation, sharing, and growth.  
  • Experimenting with a new instrument: If you already know how to play an instrument, music therapy can be a good chance to try a new one. Or, if you don’t think of yourself as “musical” at all, music therapy can introduce you to a whole new world.

Each of these expressions of can be beneficial to a client. But how does music therapy look in addiction recovery treatment programs?

How Can Music Be Used in Addiction Recovery?

First and foremost, music therapy is a complementary treatment. This means that it supplements other forms of addiction treatments and healing approaches. Music therapy addresses mental health conditions that are often intertwined with substance use, like anxiety and depression. Therefore, music is especially helpful for co-occurring disorders and sheds light on how these conditions interact.

Research also supports the efficacy of musical therapy for addiction recovery. One recent study examined the effects of music therapy for women in recovery from substance addiction. Specifically, the study found that experiences with music contributed to the following positive results:

  • Improved well-being
  • Catharsis
  • Self-understanding
  • Group cohesiveness
  • Instillation of hope

In addition, music can help retrain the brain to produce dopamine naturally in the absence of outside substances. Dopamine release is an important mental and physical aspect of addiction recovery. Thus, music therapy can be an effective component of substance abuse treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy?

In addition to the points mentioned above, there are many more benefits to music therapy for those in addiction recovery. Since this therapy is a complementary treatment, it is most effective when used in conjunction with other forms of rehabilitation. Activities like exercising or connecting in community settings can create a positive external environment for the client. Moreover, music can also be beneficial for changing a person’s internal environment, such as treating anxiety, depression, and addressing negative emotions and harmful thoughts.

However, these aren’t the only benefits. It also supports a person’s psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual, cognitive, and social health. For your emotional health, music therapy can:

  • Help you discover repressed memories or emotions that need healing
  • Deepen our sense of connection
  • Improve our mood
  • Decrease depression and anxiety symptom
  • Benefit self-expression and acceptance
  • Teach skills for stress management

Furthermore, there are also physical benefits that include:

  • Improved heart rate and lowered blood pressure
  • Assist in motor development and processing
  • Increase a sense of relaxation and improved sleep
  • Stimulate both conscious and unconscious body movements like toe-tapping or dancing
  • Help with pain management
  • Reduce asthma episodes

What Are the Spiritual, Cognitive, and Social Benefits of Music Therapy?

Additionally, there can also be spiritual benefits to this therapy. When listening to music, many people have spiritual experiences. These can allow you to connect deeper to yourself and a higher power, as well as explore your own spiritual beliefs.

As far as cognitive benefits of music, feeling clear and in control are examples of positive results. These feelings of empowerment can help us develop better coping skills in addiction recovery. Breathing techniques, intentional relaxation, and emotional expression can all play a role in relapse prevention.

Finally, there are also social benefits of. Music has a way of bringing people together. Through music therapy, you’ll be able to connect with others over music and shared experiences. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet people and form relationships in a healthy environment.

Why Not Start Your Healing Journey Today?

Pinnacle Recovery incorporates music into their inpatient recovery program. By using interactive elements, collaboration, and creativity, music can become a key part of your recovery journey. Our facility has instruments on site and therapists to help guide you in working through tough emotions.

Reach out to a professional at Pinnacle Recovery today and begin your healing journey.