What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music to address physical, psychological, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. The discipline includes a range of practices, such as using music to encourage movement, using music to facilitate communication, and using music to promote well-being.

Music therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.  Music therapists are trained in both music and psychology and use their skills to assess client needs and design treatment plans that use music to address non-musical goals. Board-certified music therapists work in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, private practices, nursing homes, hospices, wellness centers, and more.

Types of Music Therapy

Humanistic Music Therapy

Humanistic music therapy is based on the belief that everyone has the potential for self-actualization. This type of therapy uses music to help people achieve their full potential. The therapist creates an environment where the client feels safe and comfortable. They will then use music to help the client explore their emotions and thoughts. The therapist will also use music to help the client develop their communication and social skills.

 Cognitive-Behavioral Music Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral music therapy is based on the belief that our thoughts and behaviors are interconnected. This type of therapy uses music to help people change their negative thoughts and behaviors. The therapist will help the client identify their negative thoughts and behaviors. They will then use music to help the client develop new, positive thoughts and behaviors.

Analytical Music Therapy

Analytical music therapy is based on the belief that our problems are caused by our past experiences. This type of therapy uses music to help people understand their past experiences and how they are impacting their present life. The therapist will help the client identify their past experiences. They will then use music to help the client process these experiences and understand how they are impacting their life.

How does music therapy work?

Board certified music therapists are trained in assessing client needs and using evidence-based interventions to address those needs. Each intervention is designed to meet the individualized goals set by the client in collaboration with the music therapist. The process of meeting these goals through music therapy typically unfolds over several sessions and—similar to other evidence-based therapies—requires a significant time commitment from both the client and therapist.

An important distinction to make is that music therapists are not teaching their clients how to play an instrument or sing. Rather, they are using music as a tool to achieve specific goals that non-musically based therapies may not be able to address as effectively. For example, a child who struggles with anxiety may explore their feelings through songwriting in order to better understand and cope with them. A senior citizen living with dementia may use live singing to reconnect with old memories and people from their past.

A Cancer patient going through chemotherapy may use a drumming circle to express themselves during treatment. Because everyone experiences and responds to music differently, each session is unique and tailored specifically to meet the needs of each individual client. This allows for intervention strategies that are much more nuanced than those available in other forms of therapy.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

Research has shown that music therapy can offer a number of benefits for people of all ages. For example, music therapy can:

-Reduce anxiety and stress

-Promote relaxation

– relieve pain

-Ease symptoms of depression

– improve mood

-Increase energy levels

– improve communication skills

-Facilitategroup bonding

Music therapy is a type of therapy that uses music to address the physical, psychological, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. The discipline includes a range of practices, such as using music to encourage movement or using music to promote well-being. Music therapists are trained in both music and psychology and use their knowledge of both disciplines to help their clients.

Music therapy is an evidenced-based healthcare profession that addresses the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals across the lifespan using music interventions. Board-certified music therapists work in a variety of settings and use active and receptive techniques based on each client’s needs in order to achieve treatment goals. Music therapy is practiced in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and private practices. Research has shown that music therapy can offer a number of benefits for people of all ages. If you think you might benefit from music therapy, be sure to talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

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