How Music Therapy Aids in Healing

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How Music Therapy Aids in Healing

There is so much pain that we experience throughout our lives, yet many of us aren’t equipped with the right tools to appropriately work through the thoughts and emotions that have dug their way deep inside of us. We spend months, sometimes years, searching for something that will ease the discomfort that we’re feeling; we abuse substances like drugs or alcohol to cover up on the outside what we’re feeling on the inside – and while it seems to work temporarily, the reality is that it’s never a long term solution. If you’re ready to dive into some creative, holistic approaches to healing in addiction recovery, you’ll find that music therapy is worth looking into.

What is Music Therapy?

On the surface, music therapy may be depicted as simply listening to music and finding relief from it; while this could hold some meaning, there’s much more to music therapy in the world of addiction recovery. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) defines music therapy as, “An established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.”

While addiction recovery is certainly a sweeping need for those in treatment, music therapy can also tend to the unique needs of those in addiction recovery such as those with emotional or behavioral concerns, depression, anxiety and other related issues. Music therapy is holistically a creative process that could involve more than simply listening to music, but rather:

  •    Creating songs
  •    Singing
  •    Dancing
  •    Interpreting
  •    And more

Music therapy truly provides a unique mode of communication in which those in recovery can discover some of the core beliefs they’ve picked up throughout their lives – and even for instances in which it’s difficult to talk about, music can bring out important messages through emotion.

Music Therapy: How It Works

Music therapy sessions are always led by a licensed therapist, and time is spent getting to know the client and what they’d personally like to work on in treatment. From there, a variety of activities may be scheduled over a longer period of time (such as the ones listed above), and the therapist and client may work together to “breakthrough” some of the mental or emotional turmoil they’ve experienced – or even some amazing post-traumatic growth moments – from becoming involved in music.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Addiction Nursing explained that unique treatment approaches, such as songwriting and lyric analyses, can bring about emotional changes in patients by giving them time to think and reflect on not only the songs and their meaning, but also on their own lived experiences – and sometimes in a newer light. The willingness itself to participate in music therapy offers clients in recovery with a powerful opportunity to harness what they’ve gone through and redefine their story – or, at a fundamental level, to understand what they’ve been going through a little better.

Edo Banach, President and CEO of NHPCO, expressed via the AMTA that music therapy isn’t what most people think it is. He stated, “I have been disabused of any notion that music therapy is simply about strumming a guitar…the guitar and voice are spiritual and deeply connected tools that can be extremely meaningful to a patient that is in pain, or family that is in need of healing.”  

Music therapy sessions tend to have a therapeutic component that involves a sort of structure or system that the therapist and client set in place, but they also have a portion of therapy that involves direct application of music to bring thoughts, feeling and emotion to life.

Positive Experiences in Music Therapy

Everyone’s experience in music therapy will be different – but for many, the journey is worthwhile. A common fear of those entering music therapy is that they must perform well or have a certain talent in order to succeed, but that should be the least of their concerns. The goal here is healing. Over time, as long as a person can say that they’ve been sincerely participating in music therapy, they can say that they’re doing the best they can in reaping the benefits of this beautifully creative healing practice.

A 2017 thesis titled, “Women with Addictions’ Experience in Music Therapy” explored the lived experiences of 16 women in addiction recovery; a total of four themes were found which contribute to the success of music therapy as a whole:

  •    Music forms connections by fostering a sense of community and understanding
  •    Desirable interpersonal shifts, especially as individuals realize they’re not alone
  •    Beneficial qualities of music therapy sessions, such as through self discovery and release of tension
  •    Music therapy’s impact on addiction recovery, including its effectiveness for treating depression, desired internal shifts and safe opportunities to work through feelings

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of music therapy and other life-changing holistic practices, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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