The Surprising Mental Health Benefits of Music Therapy

by Jul 16, 2019Therapy0 comments

Have you ever noticed how music affects your mood? Loud, fast music might make you feel more energetic or aggressive, while catchy or soothing music could help you feel more relaxed. If you’ve felt these effects while listening to music, you’re not alone. Music therapy is growing in popularity because of its positive effects on people suffering from mental disorders, sleep disturbances, and even autism and dementia.

At Advanced Psychiatry DFW, we encourage our clients to include therapy in their treatment plan. This can include talk therapy as well as other beneficial therapies like art and music. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about music therapy and its effects on mood and mental health.


How Does Music Therapy Work?

Music has been shown to alleviate pain, promote movement and engagement, and reduce anxiety and depression. Musical therapy in different forms can achieve these goals and many more. Some of the most common forms of music therapy include:

  • Lyric Analysis. The patient listens to a song that is meaningful to them, then discusses the lyrics and how they relate to the individual’s feelings. This technique helps patients open up who might otherwise find talk therapy uncomfortable or intimidating.
  • Improvisational Playing. Percussive instruments like drums, rain sticks and tambourines can be therapeutic for patients who need to let out their grief and anger in a productive way. In a group setting, improvisational playing can allow multiple patients to play out their emotions and make note of the swells and recessions of sound and how they relate to what the group is feeling.
  • Music Creation. Creative outlets can build self-esteem and confidence. By successfully writing lyrics and creating music to match, the patient will be rewarded with a creation they can take pride in. They will also gain valuable insights about themselves and their emotions.

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Do You Need Musical Training to Benefit?

No. Musical proficiency is not required to take part in and enjoy the benefits of music therapy. The music therapist sets non-musical goals that are tailored to the individual. For example, they might have the patient listen to a song they enjoy and then analyze the lyrics of that song. By taking the time to find out what the lyrics mean, and what they mean to the patient, many avenues of conversation can open up about how the song makes the patient feel and why.


Which Conditions Does It Help?

Research cited by the American Music Therapy Association has shown that music benefits the following mental health conditions when administered in addition to standard care:

  • Improvement in global state, mental state, and improved functioning.
  • Schizophrenia-like Illnesses. Decrease in negative effects, increased interest and engagement, decrease in social isolation.
  • Suppression and improvement of symptoms.
  • Decrease in stress hormones, increase in positive mental effects.
  • Significant improvement in frustration, anger, and aggression.

Research is ongoing, but it seems probable that music therapy can improve a number of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions.


Which Musical Genre is the Most Therapeutic?

There is no particular genre that works better than others. It’s more important that the music is something the individual enjoys and is familiar with. By learning about the patient’s musical preferences, the therapist can determine which songs to start with, then gradually introduce the patient to other types of music that might have beneficial effects on their mood.

Patients in an agitated state might identify more with angrier music in the moment, so the therapist could choose to start with songs that match their current mood. As the patient begins to calm down, progressing to more calming music could help them become more peaceful.


Advanced Psychiatry DFW: A Caring Team on Your Side

Our experienced psychiatric nurse practitioners offer skilled, compassionate care during troubled times. We diagnose disorders and manage your medications, but we also encourage patients to participate in therapies they find helpful, such as music therapy. Call us today for more information or to schedule your initial appointment with us.