How Psychiatry Uses Music for Mental Health
Music is interpreted in a lot of ways and is used in magnanimous occasions for different reasons; no wonder psychiatry is also utilizing music as a therapeutic modality for mental illness.
…the experience that happens when you listen to a piece of music is like a snowflake—each one is it’s own unique phenomenon. Even if you listen to the same piece by the same performer, you and the performer come into the experience having “lived life” and maybe even learned something. — Kimberly Sena Moore Ph.D.
But what does it mean when somebody utters “music therapy?” If you belong to the majority who find music as a vital element of life, then you would undoubtedly know that music can affect mood and emotions. Psychiatry has found a way to incorporate the art of music into psychological healing, especially for those who are anxious, depressed, or traumatized.
Music Therapy Sessions
During music therapy sessions, there are a couple of elements incorporated, such as listening to relaxing music, songwriting, and creating music. The goal of the music therapist depends on the condition of the patient. Some of these goals are:
- Encourage expression of feelings to relieve anxiety or stress
- Improve the person’s mood
- Enhance patient’s coping mechanism to better his quality of life
And the best part is, patients need not be musical geniuses nor do they need to have some background in music to benefit from the therapy.
Music Therapy Advantages
Music therapy includes passive methods that technically involve listening, active approaches that include singing or operating an instrument, or a combination of techniques that are connected with music.
When I listen to heavy metal, I feel the essential part of myself that responds to a strong beat. Even on the coldest northeastern days, certain bands conjure the feeling of the warm desert where I grew up. — Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT
Music therapy has developed so much over the years that it is currently one of the most favored treatment techniques used not only for mental health issues but also for patients who have cancer and disabled individuals. To elaborate further, below is a list of music therapy benefits.
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Helps manage stress
- Improves communication and relationship with others
- Enhances memory through brain stimulation
- Strengthens social skills
- Keeps emotions at bay
- Enhances coordination and movement
- Helps deal with pain, either emotional or physical
- Reduces fear
- Improves immunity
Music Therapy For Teens
Teenagers are considered as one of the most stressed individuals of this generation. With all the things that they should balance – family, school, friends, social media, and a part-time job – teens, are becoming more and more worried and overwhelmed. Because of all of the responsibilities that teenagers have to fulfill, they are becoming more vulnerable to stress, and what’s worse is not knowing how to cope. Often, unhealthy coping strategies lead to anxiety and depression.
Music therapy is a non-invasive experience that helps teenagers in a way that therapists can easily integrate music into their daily lives mainly because the majority of teenagers listen to music. Therapists consider music therapy for teens to provoke a more relaxing and mindful experience while encouraging emotional absolution and reducing melancholia. Children these days are fond of self-expression which is why music therapy is a prime choice for therapists.
Use headphones or earbuds if that helps you focus or shut out external noise. Give yourself permission to only listen to the music, without simultaneously checking your email or refreshing your Facebook feed. — Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT
Music Therapy Is For Everyone
Probably one of the primary reasons why music therapy has become increasingly popular, especially for children and adolescents is because of its approach, stimulating the part of the brain that invokes creativity.
Music therapy strongly enhances cognitive functioning for self-awareness, alleviation of negative thoughts and feelings, encouraging healthy communication, and supports self-expression. However, the effectiveness of this kind of therapy dramatically depends on the response of the patient. Still, one cannot deny that music therapy is one of the most relevant and engaging forms of psychiatric treatments that everyone can avail.